Surprise: Tarsiers found outside Bohol



Newly born tarsiers were found in a small patch of secondary forest on Mt. Matutum in South Cotabato giving conservationists hope that there are more of the endangered species in the area that is threatened by logging, farming and mining.

Conservation group Endangered Species International (ESI) said a B’laan found two male baby tarsiers in the Matutum forest in May.

One of the infant tarsiers was with its mother, while the other was alone in the forest, ESI President Pierre Fidenci said in an e-mail to the Inquirer in early June.

Largest outside Bohol

With the new discoveries, the number of tarsiers found on Mt. Matutum has reached 26, Fidenci said. He said there could be as many as 50 to 80 tarsiers in the area, making it the largest tarsier population in the country outside of Bohol, where the first tarsier shelter in the country has been established.

Tarsiers have been placed on the red list of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, which says the tarsiers’ forest habitats are being swallowed by logging, mining, agriculture and other economic activities.

ESI said the conservation center would be managed with the B’laan tribe. The group is surveying the proposed sanctuary area, which is about 600 hectares. The sanctuary, which will have nature trails, is expected to be ready later this year.

Fidenci said the tarsiers were being taken care of by the B’laan tribe, which is building a low-impact tarsier sanctuary on Mt. Matutum with the help of ESI.


“The interesting fact is that our research shows the tarsier survived in patches of secondary forest left, and sometimes tiny patches of 10 meters by 20 meters, so cutting down those remaining important ‘islands’ of suitable habitats could lead to rapid extirpation of the Philippine tarsier in Mindanao,” Fidenci said.

ESI is reforesting the degraded parts of Mt. Matutum with indigenous trees as part of its work to preserve the tarsier population in Mindanao.

ESI, which is based in San Francisco, California, has been collecting seedlings of rare and endemic trees from the primary forests of Mt. Matutum for use in the reforestation that will restore biodiversity in the degraded areas.

“Our goal is to continue to harvest seedlings from Mt. Matutum to make our reforestation efforts a real success,” Fidenci said.

Regreening the mountain

Regreening the mountain with local trees is important to the conservation of the tarsier, Fidenci said.

Increasing commercial activities in the mineral-rich and fertile lands of Mt. Matutum could wipe out the tarsier population in the area, said.

“Our data show an urgent need to protect the Philippine tarsier before it is too late,” Fidenci said. “Our reforestation efforts show good progress, with 80-percent survival rate and with some trees [doubling] their height in two months.”

The slopes of Matutum have been deforested and planted to pineapples, coconuts and bananas over the years. The mountain has a forest reserve of 14,000 hectares, but according to data from Birdlife International, only 3,000 hectares comprise primary old-growth forest.


ESI has been training the B’laans to identify and protect tarsiers. They are being taught to detect the presence of tarsiers through the smell of the animals’ feces from a distance. They are also learning to search for individual tarsiers hiding under dense vegetation.

“Our B’laan teams are now becoming experts on surveying for tarsiers, Fidenci said.

Fidenci, who first visited the Philippines in 2001, said B’laans are also being trained to become naturalists.

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  • 1ncorruptus

    Mr.Pierre Fidensi of ESI is Heaven-sent to a country like the Philippines, where mining and logging, illegal or otherwise, have destroyed and wiped out forests, hiills, and other habitats of endangered and wild animals, and made so many of them extinct, including rare plant and tree species that are endemic only in our country. The culture of unbridled materialism, corruption, and greed in combination with utter lack of love of country and fear of God, so prevalent among our people, has served as the catalyst to the widespread environmental degradation and extinction of endemic fauna and flora that we are witnessing now. May the zeal and dedication to conservation and protection of the environment and its fauna and flora spread like wildfire from our indigenous B’laans, not only to the other tribes in the Philippines and the rest of our countrymen, but also to all the peoples of the world.

    Congratulations, Mr. Fidensi and the ESI, for your success! Thank you so much for helping, protecting, and conserving our dwindling tarsiers, a most endangered species, and for reforesting denuded Mount Matutum. You have done what no Filipino or organization had done before. May God be with you and with ESI always.

  • tgomeziii

    There were tarsiers in Samar, too. Most probably there may still be.

  • farmerpo

    If we can evoke the same hysteria as was generated for Jessica Sanchez for the tarsiers, then we could make our lasting mark in our ecology. As it is, a non Pinoy personality, Pierre Fidenci for a non Pinoy organiztion ESI
    seems to be doing all the dirty work. Mind you, he is not doing it for the Pinas, but for world ecology. What is our contribution? As individuals, as a nation? Atin ito, mas mahalaga kaysa kay Jessica o kay Pacman o sa akin o sa iyo. Ito ay bahagi natin para mundo, si Mr Findenci na lang ba kikilos?

    • $17848434

      Ask ‘kilabot’ above!

  • Kaloi Gabucan

    At Carmen, Davao del Norte Tarsiers are being sold for a hefty prize. Hope authorities will look into this.

    • Pedro Mateo

      Likewise in Caraga region, they are commonly sold by the mamanwa’s and other IP’s tribe. It was sold at a bargain and they are invoking IP right, so authority can not do otherwise. .

  • Pedro Mateo

    Tarsier is not exclusive in Bohol, it is found throughout Mindanao Island and even in Leyte and Samar provinces. There is even a joke that these tarsiers found in any provinces of Mindanao are brought up by the ancestor immigrant from Bohol. . My great grandfather is from Bohol but I don’t believe it, it’s really part of the ecosystem in Mindanao and not exclusive of Bohol. .

    • Karina Carinosa

      It is no surprise at all that tarsiers can be found in South Cotabato. Bohol, Samar and Leyte including Dinagat Island were all part of the Greater Mindanao Area during the ice age. They were once connected by land bridges for the tarsiers to be able to spread out. Ever wonder why there are no tarsiers in Cebu which is much closer to Bohol but we can find them in Dinagat Island which is farther? Cebu was never connected to the Greater Mindanao Area and was isolated since the water surrounding it is deeper.

    • limotnadibayani

      agree, i am surprised that the inquirer does not know about the tarsiers in mindanao. anybody who is older than 50 years from mindanao can tell of stories of tarsiers living in the then forested municipalities of mindanao…

    • Sol Virtudazo

      Yeah, people should take care of the environment and value what U have. I think we (Boholanos) are just lucky that it is ingrained in our culture to value and be proud of whatever we have, even to the point of people making us a butt of jokes. Tarsiers may be everywhere but it’s in Bohol where we elevate them to superstar status. We call them “mawmag” (local common name). Come to Bohol, it’s more fun to be HERE!

  • dequis

    balita d i na, kadaghang ana diri amo sa zamboanga way nag ambat, pa tarsier-tarsier, BASING ra man na

  • Hey_Dudes

    Perhaps it would have been better if they have kept this discovery a tight secret instead of announcing it to the whole world including us? Now, the more these tarsiers will become endangered knowing how we Filipinos love to hunt anything with feet and skin soon I bet some of these tarsiers will be served in turo-turo restaurants.

  • Pablo Juan

    Also, I remember reading somewhere that there are tarsiers in Mt. Hamiguitan in davao oriental in or around the bonsai forest… did the mining continue there?

  • kilabot

    they are also found in metromanila. the henares specie is found in the bir, the delima specie in doj, and the carpio specie in the sc. all three types like to hang out in malacañang dangling by noykapon’s pecker. they are not threatened by extinction.

    • drifter

      Bwahahaha. May singkit palang tarsier.

  • Bulalo

    sigurado… smuggled ang mga yan… hehehe

  • Jesse_Bruce_Pinkman

    Here’s the biggest surprise of all:

    The tarsiers can also be found in the forests of Indonesia in huge numbers.

  • Sol Virtudazo

    How else can we ensure protection & proliferation of endangered species? No to logging and mining activities. Let the community folks manage their resources sustainably. Gather what is only needed by the households, and replenish whatever is extracted by replanting and allowing living organisms to recover. No more accumulation of surplus. This is the sustainable economy of our forefathers.

  • yatot

    Madami yan sa Leyte at Samar areas..

  • Anacleto

    Tarsier can be found also in Mt. Pangasugan, VSU, Baybay City.

  • nti_boohaya

    there are also tarsiers living in my little town in region 1. we used to view them as a bad omen because we did not know any better. amazingly, a family lives on an empty lot that with at least 20 years of overgrowth. it is good that the people are more environmentally conscious that wild deers and boars are now coming back! kudos.

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