The trail was muddy and slippery. It rained the previous night and walking through the leafy trail, looking for the elusive tarsiers, proved more challenging than was expected. Various unidentifiable bugs buzz by, a proof of how pristine the environment was. We plodded on. Finally, our guide stopped, silently pointed to a branch of the tree and camera shutters click-clacked. We found a tarsier.
Founded in the mid-nineties, the Philippine Tarsier & Wildlife Sanctuary was our second stop on Philtoa’s What’s Up Bohol tour. From Astoria Bohol, our massive bus navigated the narrow roads of the island en route to Corella; a small town southwest of the Bohol mainland. A quick walk later and we were at the receiving hall of the sanctuary.
A few facts regarding the tarsier, the smallest primate in the world, is presented playfully in the lobby. Honestly, there weren’t that much to see, but one display impressed me; a full skeleton of an adult tarsier. It was extremely small.
A group of European teens, volunteers of the sanctuary, then greeted us and led us to the trail. Finally, we’re off to see some tarsiers.
The said sanctuary, a 134-hectare land, dedicated to nothing but the preservation of the tarsier is a secondary growth forest located on the borders of two municipalities; Sikatuna and Corella. The area is massive, quite perfect for the Philippine tarsier since they are territorial and require at least a hectare of land per individual.
I was wearing flip-flops during our visit and immediately wished I wore my trek shoes instead. The trail is quite easy to navigate, if not for the mud. There are really no hard inclines, but it was a bit slippery, especially when mud started to get in between my feet and sandals.
We were warned by our guide to minimize our noises as we went along; these animals are nocturnal, they sleep during the day and hunt for bugs only at night. As soon as he spotted a tarsier sleeping on a tree branch, he immediately put his hands on his lips and whispered, no camera flashes please.
Cameras were trained upwards and clicks and whispers interspersed with one another. Visitors are not allowed to stay more than five minutes per tarsier sighting so as not to disturb the animal; these guys are pretty sensitive. It was not uncommon for them to commit suicide by banging their heads, especially in captivity.
Our tour only lasted for about half an hour, seeing only two individual tarsiers. But for those wanting a more in-depth experience, the Philippine Tarsier & Wildlife Sanctuary does offer longer tours. Their Day Trek lasts a minimum of two hours and they also have a Night Trek. Both tours costs Php500.00 each, good for two persons and inclusive of a guide.
Before we boarded our bus, we met Bohol’s famed Tarsier Man, Carlito Pizarras. He used to hunt these animals, selling them to tourists for a few hundred pesos, before becoming an environmental zealot. Now, he’s part of the sanctuary, leading the breeding and conservation of these species in the region; a living example of the goals that the Philippine Tarsier & Wildlife Sanctuary hopes to achieve.
Philippine Tarsier & Wildlife Sanctuary Bohol
Address: Km. 14, Canapnapan, Corella, Bohol
Contact Number: (0927) 541-2290
Open Hours: 9:00AM – 4:00PM
Entrance Fee: Php50.00 per person
GPS Coordinates Map: 9°41'27.6"N 123°57'08.6"E