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IN LOBOC, BOHOL: Tarsiers freed to their natural habitat

- Ric V. Obedencio and Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon () - July 24, 2011 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - At least 100 caged tarsiers from tourism-establishments were freed and transferred to their natural habitat in a 5.90-hectare Tarsier Conservation area in Barangay Candabong, Loboc, Bohol by the DENR-7, according to Nestor Canda, OIC of the provincial environment and natural resources office.

The release of the tarsiers to their natural habitat was witnessed by DENR Assistant Secretary Michelle Angelica Go, and Isabelito Tongco, representative of Governor Edgar Chatto, said Canda.

The Protected Areas for Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) has finally decided to free the tarsiers in captivity even if the firms are still having permits.

This came after a series of consultation meetings with the 12 wildlife farm permit (WFP) holders, local government units of Bohol, and other stakeholders, following a number of complaints that tarsiers have been mishandled while in captivity.

A WFP is a five-year agreement between the holder and the government, renewable for a similar term. 

In a statement, DENR-7 regional executive director Maximo Dichoso said the tarsier's situation may be subjected to a stress as many visitors or tourists want to interact with the animals by day thus disrupting and disturbing their nocturnal life. This contact alters the tarsier's biological processes making them weak and vulnerable to diseases, he said.

DENR said the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) is a shy animal with a mostly hidden life; normally sleeps in dark hollows close to the ground, near the trunks of trees and shrubs deep in the impenetrable bushes and forests. They only become active at night to look for food, and with their much better sight and amazing ability to maneuver around trees, they are able to avoid humans.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje had already instructed DENR-7 to transfer the tarsiers to their natural habitat and at the same time maintain the economic activity of the WFP holders.

Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto recommended that they must be returned to its habitat and requested DENR to respect the local ordinance to stop the issuance of permits to possess tarsiers.

The Bohol Provincial Board, for its part, approved Ordinance 015-2008 prohibiting the possession and display of tarsiers in the towns Loay and Loboc, Bohol, while the DENR-7 recommended for the issuance of a moratorium on the capture and possession of tarsiers.

The municipal council of Loboc town, however countered by approving Resolution No. 22-2009, requesting for freezing of the Provincial Ordinance, contending that tarsiers have boosted tourism, generated income to the LGU and provide livelihood to the townsfolk.

The tarsier permittees, on the other hand, formed an association, headed by German Palapar, transferring all their tarsiers to a 5.90-hectare land and negotiating to acquire an additional 5-hectare area within the Loboc Watershed Protected Area.

Another group, the Habitat Village Handicraft, Stuff Toy Makers and Suppliers Association, based in Bo-ol district of Tagbilaran City, has appealed to the provincial government to grant its plea for suspension of the Tarsier Ordinance enforcement.

The group, in a manifesto signed by 34 tailors and 13 suppliers, argued that their only livelihood of tarsier stuff toy-making will be adversely affected, although they insisted that they were never against preservation of the animal.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY MICHELLE ANGELICA GO BARANGAY CANDABONG BOHOL BOHOL GOVERNOR EDGAR CHATTO BOHOL PROVINCIAL BOARD DENR GERMAN PALAPAR GOVERNOR EDGAR CHATTO HABITAT VILLAGE HANDICRAFT ISABELITO TONGCO TARSIERS
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