‘Animal harassment must not get incentivized’: NGO says after viral mishandling of tarsiers

April 11, 2024 - 12:19 PM
Philippine tarsiers
Tarsiers at the Tarsier Sanctuary at Canapnapan, Corella, Bohol in this photo taken by Rino and posted by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc on Facebook on May 26, 2023 (tarsierfoundation/Facebook)

A non-profit organization called out a vlogger from South Cotabato for subjecting tarsiers to “animal harassment” for content in a video that went viral on social media.

Social media accounts on Wednesday raised awareness about a clip from a content of vlogger “Farm Boy,” which featured him handling a tarsier and laughing with another individual as they asked the animal to smile for their camera.

“Farm Boy” is the vlog name of Ryan Parreño, a resident of Polomolok, South Cotabato.

The cameraman filming the incident also held a tarsier and showed it to their viewers.

The clip was condemned by social media users, as well as the Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc, which called the act “stupid” and “crude behavior.”

“‘Anonymous’ people purposely do stupid things and post it online for views… and pages post them for monetization,” the non-profit organization said on Facebook on Wednesday.

It also said that such kind of content must not be monetized at all.

“The internet has been used to trigger all sorts [of] negativity and frenzy for the sake of monetization. Showcasing ‘animal harassment’ must not get incentivized. And accounts who leverage on it for clout must be taught a lesson,” the org said.

“Banlaw Spaces” host Paulo (@pauloMDtweets) also called out the vlogger and raised awareness about the incident on the X (formerly Twitter) platform.

“Waaah! ‘Yung tarsier! Nanahimik ‘yung primate sa kanyang habitat, inistorbo ni kuya! Hindi ba niya alam ang proper way in handling and dealing with these animals?! Naawa ako, huhuhu!” he wrote.

Another X user translated what the vlogger was saying in the video about “posting” the video.

“‘Translation: ‘wag mo i-post ha, ‘wag mo i-post, huhuliin tayo, bawal pa naman ‘to.’ – Alam pala nila na bawal, lol,” the user said, quoting the vlogger.

Others expressed concern for the tarsiers’ welfare.

“Hindi dapat hinahawakan ang tarsier, na-stress sila,” another user wrote.

“Tarsiers are known to kill themselves when they’re stressed,” commented a different Pinoy.

According to the New England Primate Conservancy, tarsiers “are extremely shy animals who fare poorly in captivity.”

“They are sensitive to bright lights, loud noises, and physical contact. They are easily stressed and have been known to harm themselves—even kill themselves—by banging their head against the bars of their caged enclosure,” it said.

“Instances of ‘tarsier suicide’ with captive Philippine tarsiers (Carlito Syrichta) have been reported,” the website added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources‘ Soccksargen office also said it has “conducted an investigation into a disturbing video of improper treatment of Philippine Tarsiers.”

The department said that the two tarsiers in the video “were released into the wild by the vlogger.”

“However, the agency is still looking for further actions to be taken on the wildlife incident. Thank you,” the DENR said in a statement.

Philippine tarsiers are among the world’s smallest primates and are endemic to the archipelago’s southwest portion.

They are also nocturnal creatures built to see, hear and hunt in the darkness.

Their conservation status is “near threatened,” with threats of habitat loss, hunting and capture for pet trade.

Tourism has also emerged as a possible threat to the tarsiers because they are captured specifically for tourist facilities where they are displayed for viewing in the daytime despite being nocturnal creatures.

The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, also known as Republic Act 9147, states that “maltreating and/or inflicting other injuries” to wildlife species is illegal.