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Czechs help breed endangered tarsier in Philippines

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Prague, April 26 (CTK) – Czechs are trying to breed one of the world’s most endangered primates, the Philippine tarsier (Carlito syrichta), in the Philippines, zoologist Milada Rehakova, head of the respective Tarsius project, has said in a press release.

After an eight-year research, the team of scientists expects the birth of a tarsier offspring, in which no one has yet succeeded in the world. Tarsiers either died in captivity or did not multiply.

The tarsier ranks among the 25 most endangered primates in the world.

It often falls victim to illegal animal trade because of its appearance resembling a cute goblin. This, together with the devastation of its natural forest habitat leads to a considerable decline in the tarsier population.

During their eight-year mission in the Philippines, the Czechs have achieved the abolition of several stations where tarsiers were displayed as a tourist attraction under unsuitable conditions. They died there of extensive stress and were replaced with other poached species.

The team of Czech zoologists has been working on Bohol Island where it has built a breeding aviary in cooperation with a local animal rescue centre.

“We hope that we will be successful in the local Philippine climate conditions and with local nourishment,” Rehakova said.

The main aim of a successful tarsier multiplication in captivity is to create a reserve population for the case of its possible extinction in the wild.

Three years ago, the Czech team managed to gain the first couple of tarsiers, called Nina and Julius. They mated last autumn and their first offspring will be born these days.

The tarsier weighing some 110 to 40 grammes is one of the world’s smallest primates. It has a disproportionately big head and huge eyes it needs for its night life. Tarsiers mainly feed on insects, but also on spiders and small lizards and birds.

The most recent red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from 2008 classified the Philippine tarsier as a near-threatened species.

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