Hero of the Tarsiers

I am so delighted that finally my article Hero of the Tarsiers, featuring the tarsier man Carlito Pizarras, has been published in Highlights, a children’s magazine, last March 2014.  It was a very long wait since I submitted  it early 2011, but I can tell you it was worth it!

If you are here in the States, you can find the magazine at any public library. Just recently, I tried to google it and I found out that you can read the full article. Isn’t that so cool? Everything is at your fingertips as long as you have an internet connection.

Here’s the link –…-a0360205878

Now you can share this article to any child you know.  I think even children should be educated about the tarsiers and how Carlito Pizarras have played a vital role in saving them.




Tarsier Life and Times

by Tom Lumapas

We know that humans usually have a life span that varies depending on the conditions of life. During the Hellenistic period of Ancient Greece, a man reaching the age of 40 would be considered old. Now, it is not surprising to see people aged 70 to 80 years old. Sometimes it is even expected and anything else to be unfortunate.

This got me thinking, how long do Tarsiers live? Considering that they’re wild animals a great many are unfamiliar with, I asked Mr. Carlito Pizarras, the “Tarsier man” for answers on how long these animals live for and what factors affect their life span.

Now Tarsiers, like all living things, have a life span. This life span varies, like us humans, as the conditions of each individual life vary. It is obvious that if we keep animals placed in very small cages where they are unable to move freely to get the proper exercise, most especially if they are wild animals, their life span will be drastically shorter.

In the wild, the Philippine Tarsier can live for as long as 20 to 25 years. Female tarsiers typically live longer than their male counterparts due to their less aggressive nature as compared to their male counterparts. Adult males usually attack other males for territory and marked females, often biting and clawing each other to establish dominance that might result in death. Thus, males often do not last as long as the females. Given that younger, stronger male seeking to usurp territory could very well cause life threatening damage, it is not surprising that males do not reach the maximum expected age that some females might possibly reach.

The Philippine Tarsier has been a recorded life span of 12 years at most in captivity. However, a great many of these Tarsiers die only after a day or at most a few days if kept unhealthily in small cages and/or put under great strain while in captivity. If their places of confinement are not well designed to mimic their ideal habitat, the tarsiers might feel unhealthily, stressed. This does not affect them only in mental terms but also physically as some research has shown that the physical characteristics of Tarsiers kept in captivity mirrors those of much older Tarsiers in the wild.

Ideally, Tarsiers kept in captivity must have an abundance of shrubs, bushes and bamboo, the latter being important as a source of water for Tarsiers. These plants are important to the Tarsier since during periods of rain, the leaves of these plants serve a dual purpose. One of these is to catch the water that Tarsiers use as a source to cool down and to find a refreshing drink while another use for these leaves are a natural roofing from getting directly hit by rain water, which they hate.

In captivity though, they must have a varied diet if they hope to live longer than their projected few days at life. Thus, they require a varied diet of live insects in order to keep them healthy and enough space to chase them around the area. Without such movement and exercise of the hunt, they become lethargic and tired. Like a person who refuses to exercise, the risks of an early death rise dramatically. Considering that for a Tarsier to be healthy it must consume 1/10th of its own body weight, it is not surprising that, given the difficulty in acquiring live insects, captive Tarsiers may be underfed.


Now on the important life moments of the Philippine Tarsier, Sir Carlito Pizarras, explained that the female after mating returns to her own territory and gives birth after six months. She uses another six months to take care of her child. During these six months of growing up, the eyes of the juvenile Philippine Tarsier change from Green/Blue to Brown. The coat also changes from Greyish brown to reddish brown. After six months, the juvenile leaves the mother to find her own territory or fight for one. At reaching one year of age the Philippine Tarsier, if male has visible testicles and gain more male like facial features. However, the male like the female will not reach sexual maturity until around 3 years of age. At which point the Philippine Tarsier is ready to find mates and bear children. The males start to become more aggressive at this age while the females to signal adolescence start to have vaginal swellings with bloody discharge much like menstruation. The age of 5 can be described as the peak age for both genders as they gain their maximum size, growing to four or five inches. They also acquire permanent dentition around this time.

The Philippine Tarsier may have a short life by human standards, however the moments that it lives can, in some way, be found very relatable to us. Thus, we should try not to make their lives any shorter than they already are.


wet baby tarsier

Tarsier Territorialism

By Tom Lumapas

If you have a chance to visit the Tarsier Sanctuary located in the town of Corella, Bohol and decide to see the Philippine Tarsier (C. Syrichta) for yourself, please don’t fret if you only see a few Tarsiers in the enclosure. There is a very good reason for this and one should not be disappointed if one finds the furry prosimian (it’s not a monkey!) few and far between. Information gleaned from the Carlito Pizarras, the “Tarsier Man”, adds light to this frustrating mystery.

2011-07-08 15.33.55

The Philippine Tarsier is, unlike some of its Southern cousins, is a very territorial animal that prefers its isolation. Unlike other primates, such as humans that prefer to socialize with other individuals, the Philippine Tarsier loves its personal space. At a whopping 1 hectare per individual it’s no small wonder why these Tarsiers are so difficult to find and pretty alone to boot.

Of course, one might ask how such a small animal could claim a whole hectare as its personal living ground. Well for the most part the Philippine Tarsier, despite having the biggest eye to body ratio of any animal in existence, cannot personally monitor every tiny inch of the whole one area so it is highly likely that the 1 hectare of Tarsier A and the 1 hectare of Tarsier 2 are overlapping. Since the Tarsier takes nightly hunts for food and mates it is not surprising that some intrusions are never noticed and Tarsier A and Tarsier B are only vaguely aware of the existence of the other. If a chance meeting does occur then one tarsier will be forced out of the immediate vicinity at risk of death.

The male Philippine Tarsier is the more solitary of the two sexes as he will attack any male he finds in his territory during his nightly patrols. If he can’t chase the rivals away, he’ll resort to killing his rivals with a quick bite to the neck after wearing them down. The male might even ungentlemanly attack females in his territory if he finds them unattractive or unable to mate with him. The male will mark his territory with a variety of actions ranging from the classic poo droppings to urine sprays. However, the male has a special scent gland located near the stomach called the epigastric gland that it rubs on surfaces to mark its territory.

The female, being the fairer sex, is probably less aggressive and willing to share right? Well, yes and no. It is true that the female is less likely to attack other females she finds in her territory, however this is true only if the environment is abundant with insects. So having satisfied her nutritional requirement and sure that there is more food from where that came from, she will allow other females to enter her territory as long as they return to their respective territory before she sleeps in her area. If resources are not abundant enough, then these females will be just as aggressive as the males, attacking intruders she finds during her roaming in the territory. Similar to the male, the female will mark her territory with fecal droppings and urine. Interestingly though, the mother unleashes a strong scent to mark her territory when she is caring for her toddler and she parks him somewhere to hunt. This serves a dual purpose of directing the toddler back to his mother’s area when the toddler wanders off and warning other tarsiers off the area.

So, don’t be surprised to see two or fewer tarsiers on your visit. You are seeing these animals living peacefully and happily in isolation away from each other, knowing that no other rival will disturb them as they sleep the daylight hours away. After all forcing other tarsiers into a tarsier’s territory where they shouldn’t be in is like forcing another family to live in your family’s living room. You wouldn’t like that at all would you?

enrique and team


As part of GLOBE TELECOM’s TREE GROWING PROGRAM, Philippine Tarsier Foundation Staff and volunteers every other morning plant seedlings along trails and barren areas of the forest.

The trees specially selected by Carlito Pizarras, more famous for the alias “Tarsier man” which serves the purpose as host for INSECTS (Staple food for tarsiers) and as host trees for animals.

The volunteers are from European Union , hosted by YSDA (Marianne), a Spanish long term volunteer (Enrique) and a short term French Volunteer (Quentin) of the Foundation.

This is just one of he series tree plating which totals to 300 host trees! Good for insects, Good for TARSIERS and of curse great for the various species of birds having their home in the forest of the Philippine Tarsier Foundation

For more photos see:

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It’s a sad but true story… Approximately three weeks ago we’ve discovered that one of our Tarsiers looks a bit different and is nlacking i one eye! Quite fast gained a new name – Pirate. At the beginning we weren’t sure if it will survive in a natural environment. A little tarsier has to hunt for most of the night thus it needs to be in a perfect shape. Tarsier has to be a great hunter in order to catch a big amount of insects. Apparently our pirate is doing well enough, has survived those past weeks and is getting better now.

 A ‘huggable looking’  tarsier at day time, is a great predator at night time! What is surprising, tarsiers can fight with each other, first of all – for the territory, second of all – for the females! And mating season is on now… The two males while fighting in order to charm a female can even kill each other! Cruel but real natural environment is not for the weak ones… But our pirate doesn’t have any other scars or injuries which rather occur right after the fight. Which leads to another theory, it could be just a bad accident or a big beetle bite.

But whatever that was, the good news is he is alive and is doing fine in the natural habitat. Which proves he is in deed one tough tarsier. Animals do do well in their natural environment.

by Kamila Fy

See more photo at


Jungle rulez!

I live and work in Philippine Tarsier Foundation which is basically placed in the jungle.
Just behind the main building of the foundation where all the volunteers stay, there is a sanctuary where our precious tarsiers live. We are in a close touch with jungle and everything which lives there. It basically means that we share our accommodation with all the insects, lizards, snakes and creatures which feel invited to our building ;p
I’m here three months and I can already recognize most of the noises coming from the jungle, especially during the night time when all the animals are easily hearable by us – a real jungle music! I really enjoy living close to the nature and wildlife… To be honest, every time I come back to the jungle from the city I feel like home! 😉
The closest civilization is 15 km far from our foundation, it’s a quite a big city called Tagbilaran. Once per 2-3 days we go there by jeepney or hitch-hiking to use Internet and buy some food in a supermarket or street market.
Living in the jungle has its advantages, as long as you enjoy nature, wildlife and you don’t mind to get really dirty;p

Regards, Kamila

kamila (1)


Diving masters (well… almost)

So it happened…

Coming to the Philippines, I was sure that I’d love to take diving course. Now, when two months of our stay as volunteers have passed, finally, a perfect moment to do so appeared.

 All together: the volunteers from Bohol and some extra active ones from Manila ;)) plus our great mentor Joannie, we went to a little paradisiac island called Pamilacan to take a four-day-long course. The weather was perfect, the instructors were experienced and the group was fun – nothing could be any better!

After four days of
diving, sunbathing, reef watching and learning, we passed our exam for Open Water Divers and now all the great diving spots are waiting for us!


Other animals

For us, volunteers of the Tarsier Foundation, Bohol is all about tarsiers. However, there are other interesting animals living here – for example giant bats with a wingspan of 1.5?1.7 m (more info: or Philippine flying lemur ( Obviously, those animals are quite difficult to spot. No worries – if you’re not lucky enough, you may always go to see macaques. Some of them are
crab-eating but for sure they will not resist if they are offered a banana!

Want to volunteer? Contact us. :)

kamila fy

Hi! My name is Kamila…

Hi! My name is Kamila and I come from Poland. I’m really happy I can be part of EVS project in Philippines. This amazing country gives me opportunity to be close with nature, get to know other culture and friendly local people. According the project, I work and live in Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella (Bohol) with other volunteers from Poland, Italy and Spain. Working in sanctuary as a tour guide gives me opportunity to stay close with nature what I really appreciate because I have a  great interest in biology and geography area.
Kamila Fy
Want to know more about volunteering? Contact us.
photo by Marta Patyra.

A View from the Top

Photo by Marta Patyra

These are just some of the photos the Polish Volunteers took during the Day Trek and Camping.

The photo above is taken during the early morning where the forest was covered with fog and looked like, well at least to me, a grass with cob webs and dew.

Just before sunset,  beautiful orange and dark clouds with a powder blue background of a sky made the scene almost out of this world, thanks to volunteer Ms. Marta Patyra for capturing the view.

It never fails to remind me of Jurassic Park or Avatar.

These are just some of the views you’ll when you trek to the viewing decks found inside the tarsier sanctuary. But of course, experiencing it is a whole lot different than mere photos.

Do Your Share in Saving the Philippine Tarsier

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