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The Sanctuary

[singlepic id=1 w=250 h=250 float=left]Selected by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation as site for the Tarsier Sanctuary is a forested area in the public domain of approximately 134 hectares between the municipalities of Corella and Sikatuna in Bohol.Corella is only 14 kilometers northeast of Tagbilaran City. Buses and jeepneys regularly ply the route. Airconditioned coaches and cars are likewise available for hire at the airport, travel agencies and hotels in the capital and resorts on the nearby island of Panglao. From the town center of Corella to the Sanctuary entrance is a mere 4 kilometers away.

Existing in the area now is a spacious cage where “Tarsier Man” Carlito Pizarras, who at the outset caught and sold specimens to collectors, hobbyists and tourists for a living but has since become an enthusiastic environmentalist, keeps several of the specie for feeding, breeding and display. Pizarras is now employed by the foundation, which has likewise assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the cage and its inmates. Later, the whole operation will be relocated to the sanctuary proper.

Numerous sightings of the tarsier within and around the site confirm that it is most suitable for the stated purpose. In addition to being extensive, it is largely uninhabited and isolated enough from settlements that neither population pressure nor pollution in any form is foreseen to be a problem. While certain parts are open and relatively bare, on the whole vegetation is adequately lush, mostly with the kind of second-growth trees, bamboo clumps, tall grass patches and thick bushes that the tarsier prefers. Amid such scenery, the Foundation proposes to construct a visitor complex, from a design with materials that will blend with the surroundings. Aimed at introducing guests to the Philippine tarsier, the Philippine Tarsier Conservation Program and the Sanctuary, this building will contain, among others, a reception and souvenir counter, an exhibition area, an audio-visual room, a mini-cafeteria, toilets, and administration offices. Outside will be a lounge deck, and a nearby parking lot, beyond which no vehicles will be allowed.

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Elsewhere on the premises a research center will also rise, with a fully equipped laboratory, veterinary clinic, library, offices and conference rooms, staff quarters and storage. Here the Foundation likewise intends to provide suitable if limited accommodations for visiting scientists and technicians. Access to this center will actually be restricted. Attached to it however, will be a sizable netted enclosure replacing the cage currently in the care of Mr. Pizarras, which will hold a small colony of the specie for both public viewing and study.

From the visitor complex, trails and pathways will spread out to various parts of the sanctuary, where the tarsier can be observed in its natural habitat either with the naked eye or through binoculars. To facilitate this, a series of viewing decks will be erected at ground level or atop elevated platforms. On the walking tours that the visitors will be guided through, furthermore, there will be ample opportunity to become acquainted with a wide variety of fauna and flora, the latter bearing signage giving their scientific name, place of origin, geographical distribution, and briefly explaining their properties and traditional applications.

Parallel to and in aid of wildlife conservation, the Philippine Tarsier Foundation envisions reforestation as the other priority thrust of the sanctuary. To this end, it plans to allot a substantial portion of the property to the cultivation and propagation of hardwoods that Bohol was renowned for among shipbuilders, carpenters and furniture makers in centuries past; of bamboo which has become synonymous with Asian handicrafts and housewares; of palms and ferns that have always provided sustenance and shelter to the Filipino apart from being decorative; and of plants, herbs and flowers which are either medicinal or have commercial value.