Do you remember the visit of Cebu students in September last year? Young Filipinos liked our Project that much that they wished to come and gain working experience with us! As a part of collaboration between the Project and the University of San Carlos, we hosted students of Environmental Science Between 18th April and 2nd June 2017. The students were doing their On-The-Job-Traineeship program under supervision of the Project staff as well as collecting data for their theses. They helped with tarsiers husbandry learning how to conduct tasks in animal captive breeding facility. They also participated in the research subproject focused on tarsiers habitat selection. The students were put through gradual stages of progress from observations, through practical learning, leading to independent task performance.
Main part of their work was vegetation and insects surveys in the village where the Project is located. It involved very hard field work under all weather conditions and time of a day and evening. We all dealt with hills of almost vertical slopes to climb onto in both intact as well as human disturbed areas. Students and Project staff became one team, sharing all of the fallings during climbing, stings of wasps, bees and faced army of mosquitoes and ants. However these problems did not remove the smile from our faces!
Thanks to this research project we gathered important data on the habitat preferences of the Philippine tarsier. We had to become not only primatologists, but also botanists and entomologists, which was very challenging, but very exciting experience for all members of the team. Letting aside the field work, one of the most enriching experience was work of three nationalities arm to arm in order to reach the goals. We learned from each other and learned how to solve problems together.
The entire training for the students made them more knowledgeable about environmental issues and equipped them with invaluable working experience, not only making them more competitive in the job market, but also helping them to become professionals and help the Philippines to combat environmental issues. This was always our goal! We not only educate local people on seminars, workshops, theatrical performances, traineeships, but we provide the new generation of biologists with hand-on experience. We all were very proud seeing the local students doing tasks independently, and what is more, that they liked the field work!
We wish all of our five students good luck in their careers which hopefully will be related to wildlife conservation in their own country.
Text: Filip Wojciechowski
Photos: Sheila Omamalin, Phoenix Beamish