Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Tarsier on ‘borrowed time’
The tiny, furry tree-climber with the outsize, owl-like eyes pricked its ears and swiveled its head as a rustle on the forest floor ended its midday slumber.
Carlito Pizarras, son of a taxidermist, had sneaked up so close he could smell the tarsier on its shady perch.
The midget mammal has been around since the Eocene Age, but 45 million years of evolution were hardly of any help against Bohol’s most famous game hunter.
Pizarras had given up his air gun, formaldehyde and the other awful tools of his trade some time in the seventies and devoted the rest of his life to save the exotic mascot of the Philippines’ receding tropical forests.
“I noticed that I had to hike deeper into the forest to find one, unlike in the sixties when you could snatch them [off] tree branches by the side of the road,” the 50-year-old told AFP at a tarsier reservation here.
The tarsier is found only in four islands in the central and southern Philippines and on several islands of nearby Indonesia.
Incorrectly regarded by Filipinos as the world’s smallest “monkey,” it is really a cousin of the lemur and the tree shrew.
An adult male with gray or reddish fur grows to about 130 grams, about the size of a human fist, and with its long, naked tail for balance it jumps like a frog across low-hanging tree branches at night. It eats about a 10th of its weight in moths, dragonflies, grasshoppers and beetles.
Left in the wild, tarsiers can live up to 15 years.
Although technically it is not yet on the list of the country’s endangered species, the government believes without human intervention it can disappear in a few years.
Posted by C. at 9:48 AM