Tarsier Spectrum and Macaca Nigra of North Sulawesi

Bitung Travel Blog

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The homestay owned by the park ranger
This visit to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi was quite educational for me. I not only learnt about the history of Sulawesi pre WW2(used to be part of the Philippines before during Japanese times) from the locals but also that the northern part of Sulawesi has the only documented community of the Tarsier Spectrum and the Macaca Nigra (black crested macaque/monkey), protected and endnagered, respectively. I stayed at a homestay which belonged to the ranger of the park and so it proved pretty educational. That night there was no electricity in the village so it was not fun getting up at 3:45am the next morning to get dressed. The ranger was telling me that he had helped National Geographic with their report when the NG team came out to do a thing on the Tarsus, in celebration of 150 years of NGS.
Black crested macaque (Macaca Nigra) in the Tangkoko Reserve
There is the western and eastern Tarsier, but only the eastern is found on Sulawesi, and specifically the Spectrum in north Sulawesi. According to the ranger, there are 5 species of eastern tarsier on Sulawesi. I was fortunate to run into a researcher observing the Macaca Nigras and we had a lengthy discussion of the behavior of the Macacas. I also learnt that the program was being sponsored by the German Primate Center. This is the first documented community of the species type, the other 8, supposedly found on Sulawesi have not been documented and numbers are unknown. All but the Macaca nigras are somewhat used to humans being that they have been known to roam into the villages and steal fruit. The Tarsus is hunted for pets and the ranger was telling me that only the day before I arrived they found 3 illegal captures of the Tarsier Spectrum at the Manado Airport.
Tarsier Spectrum, about 1730 local time in the Tangkoko Reserve
The reserve didn't feel very large even after being told it was 4-5 hectares. To get to see these magnificent creatures, it was another lengthy walk in the sauna into the rain forest and it rained like crazy the evening I headed in with the ranger to seek the Tarsier, which happens to be the smallest primate. The guys are nocturnal feeders and sleep during the day. We headed in just in time to one of the last ones leaving their home(tree), since it was a rainy day, they probably woke up earlier since the sun didn't come out. The ranger told me I was very lucky to be able to get a pic of a wild tarsier as these small cuties are very quick in moving from branch to branch. It was quite a struggle and I was determined to get a decent pic after the disaster with my underwater photography(more on that later).
Black crested macaque (Macaca Nigra) in the Tangkoko Reserve
The next morning we headed out at 4:30am to catch the Tarsus going back to sleep and then continued to in search of the Black Crested macaques. For this we headed deeper into the Reserve and I was cursing the humidity the further in we went. After an hour and a half of going in circles, and making calls, we located a community being observed by researches and stopped to observe ourselves. The Macacas were running between us, jumping from branch to branch, outwardly frisky more than once(funny!), and ignored us as we stood there to observe. The rangers see the monkeys everyday but it was my first time and was very exciting. I was sad to leave as I had a flight to catch.
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The homestay owned by the park ran…
The homestay owned by the park ra…
Black crested macaque (Macaca Nigr…
Black crested macaque (Macaca Nig…
Tarsier Spectrum, about 1730 local…
Tarsier Spectrum, about 1730 loca…
Black crested macaque (Macaca Nigr…
Black crested macaque (Macaca Nig…
Walking in the Tangkoko Reserve ra…
Walking in the Tangkoko Reserve r…
Walking in the Tangkoko Reserve ra…
Walking in the Tangkoko Reserve r…
Ranger showing off the NGS t-shirt…
Ranger showing off the NGS t-shir…
Gathering of Black creste macacque…
Gathering of Black creste macacqu…
Bitung
photo by: advgal