By Allen Estabillo
KORONADAL CITY — An upland village here could also be the home of the tarsier, one of the world’s smallest primates.
This, as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) is looking at the presence of more tarsiers in the forests of Barangay Assumption in this city following the rescue of one of them in the area last week.
Forester Mangayao Macapodi, chief of the DENR-12’s Protected Area Management and Biodiversity Conservation section, said Monday the tarsier was found by a resident, identified as Arnel Alvarez, in the hands of a group of children in sitio Elalam of the village.
Macapodi said Alvarez “checked, secured, and brought” the tarsier to the Brigada News FM station here for proper assistance. Upon hearing the radio station’s report, Macapodi said DENR personnel immediately responded to secure the primate and was formally turned over to them last January 23.
He said the primate was a male adult, weighs around 80 to 160 grams, and has an estimated height of 12 centimeters. “Since the tarsier appeared to be in good health condition, we decided to release it back to its natural habitat,” Macapodi said, adding they coordinated the release with local officials in the area to ensure that the animal would be protected.
The rescue to the tarsier was the first-ever recorded presence of the primate in the forests of Barangay Assumption, which is situated within the Roxas Mountain Range here.
Alvarez, who has settled in the village in the last 13 years, said it was his first time to see a tarsier there. Macapodi said the rescue of the tarsier was a manifestation that the primates were also thriving in the forests of Barangay Assumption.
“We will conduct information, education and communication activities in the area to inform (the people about the presence of the tarsiers) and strengthen the awareness of the community on the importance of biodiversity,” Macapodi said.
“Let the wildlife live in their natural habitat. If they are harmed or injured, bring them immediately to the nearest DENR office,” he added.
Dr. Sabdullah Abubacar, DENR-12 executive director, lauded the rescue and the proper handling of the tarsier, which is listed as a “near-threatened species” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. “It is our mandate to protect and conserve these wildlife species,” he said.
The presence of tarsiers in South Cotabato was previously confirmed in a site at the foot of Mt. Matutum in Barangay Linan, Tupi town. Mt. Matutum, the province’s landmark peak, is a known sanctuary of tarsiers, called “mal” by Blaan and Tboli tribal residents in the area.
The national government declared parts of Barangay Linan, Tupi, as a tarsier sanctuary by virtue of Proclamation 1030 signed by former President Fidel Ramos on June 23, 1997. (PNA)