DENR-11 to count tarsiers in Kapalong town, Mati City

DAVAO CITY(MindaNews/07 April)  – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will start at the end of this month a population count of tarsiers in Barangay Bobon, Mati City in Davao Oriental, and Barangay Suaon in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, Joselin Marcus Fragada, DENR-11 regional director, said.

The Protected Areas and Wildlife Division (PAWD) of the DENR-11 will conduct the population count and assessment activities, he said.

The results will be the basis for the PAWD, provincial environment and natural resources offices of Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte, and some non-government organizations to craft the management plan for tarsiers.

Fragada said the management plan for tarsiers in the Davao Region is “deemed necessary to be able to conserve and protect tarsiers and its habitat.”

Tarsiers in Mati City were discovered in 2001, while those in Kapalong were discovered only last year, according to DENR-11 information officer Bing Cordova.

Richard Villacorte, city administrator of Mati, said the local government unit “strictly enforces the ban on the catching and selling of tarsiers in Barangay Bobon and Barangay Tamisan from 2001 up to present.”

“Sometime in 2002 and 2003, we conducted site validation and tarsier documentation to confirm the reports. We have enjoined landowners in that area to preserve the tarsier habitat,” he said.

Noel Daquioag, Davao del Norte provincial tourism officer said the tarsier population count “will be beneficial so we will know exactly how many tarsiers are there. Then, we can advocate for their protection.”

He said some groups in the village have undertaken several efforts to preserve the tarsiers.

The Davao Speleological and Conservation Society, a non-government organization, will help the PAWD in the conduct of assessment and population count of tarsier in Kapalong.

The tarsiers “could be an added attraction for Kapalong and for the province of Davao del Norte”, Daquioag said

“Our domestic tourists, especially those proximate to the province, need not to travel to Bohol to see the species,” he added.

The Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), is one of the smallest known primates and weighs 113 to 142 grams. No larger than an adult men’s hand, a tarsier’s head and body length is about 118 to 149 millimeters.

The DENR Administrative Order No. 48, series of 1991, included tarsier as among the national protected wild species.

Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1991 “mandates the establishment of appropriate sanctuaries to preserve and protect the Philippine tarsier.”

The tarsier was declared as “specially protected faunal species” by former President Fidel Ramos on June 23, 1997. The proclamation prohibits the hunting, killing, wounding, taking away or possession of the Philippine tarsier.

Possession of a Philippine tarsier is allowed only for educational, scientific, conservation-centered research purposes, upon the certification of the DENR secretary.

Inhabiting in rainforests, the Philippine tarsiers are threatened by human population growth, the DENR-11 said, adding the growing human population “causes more forests to be converted to farmland, housing areas and roads, and the dwindling of the forests through indiscriminate and illegal logging, cutting of trees for firewood and slash and burn method,” among others. (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)