LAWAAN, Eastern Samar -- People here have expressed concern over the looming extinction of the Philippine tarsiers inhabiting the town’s forest.
Tarsiers had become more endangered in this town after Super Typhoon Yolanda’s (Haiyan) fierce winds killed many of them, South Eastern Samar People’s Organization Consortium (SeaSPOC) project coordinator officer Brian Gacho said on October 24.
With a height of 3.3 inches to 6.3 inches, the Philippine tarsier is known to be one of the smallest primates, categorized as an endangered species in Lawaan.
This nocturnal animal has been sighted at the Bolusao watershed and San Isidro village.
Since they are nocturnal and evasive by nature, tarsiers are rarely seen that some locals in the town center are not aware of their existence in the town’s forest.
"I haven’t seen any tarsier here. I haven’t even heard from my friends that there are tarsiers in our town," said Myzablans de Paz, a resident.
However, folks from remote communities and farm owners confirm the existence of tarsiers.
"I have seen them twice already. My friend even caught one of them," said Mitz Carl Jimenez, resident of San Isidro village.
To preserve and help the endangered species, the Department of Agriculture, together with several offices, among them SeaSPOC and the Guiuan Development Foundation (GDF), are currently conducting public awareness, as well as monitoring and evaluation.
In particular, the GDF, headed by Margarita dela Cruz, a University of the Philippines (UP) professor, has adopted Lawaan as a research site where UP Tacloban conducts its environment-related projects.
"We encourage farmers’ groups and people’s organizations to help in the conservation efforts as well, because they are the ones who will benefit from potential eco-tourism activities," Gacho said.
The town of Lawaan, which is 72 kilometers east of Tacloban City, is also home to many endangered wildlife, such as the Philippine eagle, hornbill, Philippine bulbul, wildcat, squirrels and wild boars.
Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, protects and conserves wildlife resources and their habitats. (PNA)