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14th December 2011
Travellers visiting the Philippines could pose a serious threat to the survival of the endangered nocturnal tarsier – one of the world's smallest primates
The wide-eyed charm of the tarsier is a big attraction for tourists in the Philippines, but the fame of this unique species might just be one of the biggest threats to its survival, warn conservationists. Most live in the forest surrounding the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary on the island of Bohol, which has become one of the country's most popular wildlife destinations.
Travellers come from far and wide to see this tiny creature, often trying to get as close as possible to take photographs, or pet them. But as nocturnal animals, tarsiers are extremely sensitive to daylight, noise and human contact.
Camera flashes and visitor's chatter can create a highly stressful environment for the shy species, and can reportedly sometimes be enough to drive the small animal to kill itself. When under stress tarsiers repeatedly hit their head against the hard surface of a tree, and because of the thinness of their cranium, their skulls crack easily resulting in death.
The species was declared 'specially protected' by the Philippine government in 1997, but despite this, the number of those living in the wild has dwindled to a few hundred in recent years. Conservationists say that more needs to be done through education, stricter enforcement, and monitoring of tourist activities.
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Now that IS an animal with eyelashes, isn't it?Don't let Pluck see this article, it'll add grist to his mill ;-)
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