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 Post subject: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 4:11 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Forget orangs and gibbons - to me, no mammal is more representative of Borneo than Horsfield's (Western) Tarsier aka Tarsius bancanus borneanus - a sentiment the editors of the first edition of Lonely Planet's Borneo guide seemed to share when they put a photo of the kobold-like creature on the cover. But tarsiers, like everything else in Borneo (apart from H. sapiens and R. norvegicus) are playing on the losing side: "Horsfield's tarsier is listed as vulnerable in the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, listed in CITES Appendix II, and protected by law in Indonesia and in Malaysia." Said law, of course, is worth less than the paper it was printed on, because the usual eco-doom rules apply for the tarsier, too: "The rapid loss of habitat due to forest conversion, oil palm plantations, fire and logging is cause for concern. Additionally, the species is also collected for the illegal pet trade and wrongly considered a pest to agricultural crops ("wrongly", because tarsiers are the only primates that are exclusively carnivorous) It can suffer, directly and indirectly, from the use of agricultural pesticides" (all quotes from Wikipedia).

Few of my friends here in Sarawak, even those with a long history of nature photography and scientific research, have ever seen a tarsier in the wild, so you can probably imagine my surprise when someone told me two weeks ago that he had seen tarsiers in a forest just outside Kuching. And so, fired up by the rumor of this legendary animal living so close by, last Saturday night a bunch of us ventured out there to look for the Big Prize.

At first, the forest didn't yield much, and during the first two hours we only found rather common animals:

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I believe the above to be Kalophrynus intermedius. Any confirmers?

This huge moth wowed us....until we found another seventeen or so specimens. In fact, I found one fluttering around the fifth floor of a parking garage in downtown Kuching this morning, far away from the next tree. Again, an ID would be nice.
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At that point, we split up for more efficiency, one bunch wandering off into the western part of the forest, the other eastbound. A little later my cellphone rang. It was the other guys: "Get your butts over here, we found a tarsier. And you better step on it; we don't know how much longer it'll stay put." The next twenty minutes were spent running through the dark forest as fast as the darkness (and my girth) allowed it. When we came to the location where we supposed the other group to be, there was nobody....we had misunderstood their directions. Three further frantic phone calls and another quarter hour of wild panting through the nocturnal humidity finally brought us to the Holy Grail. Our friends had spotted the beast sitting on a sapling by the trail side, and the tarsier had taken off into the thicket as soon as the flashlight hit him. One of our buddies chased the animal for about twenty yards into the dense forest, an action that took him a good fifteen minutes, onaccounta the foot-deep leaf litter, the density of the trees, and the insidious creepers connecting it all like impenetrable spiderwebs from Hell. To everyone's surprise and joy, the tarsier eventually stopped hurling himself across the jungle like some crazed wind-up toy, and opted for a break. For the best part of the next hour, the little night monkey sat there, swiveled his head into the wildest angles, circled the tree with the help of his enormous, lemur-like fingers, scrutinized the six higher primates around him with his saucer eyes, had a nice crap, and finally, after we all had taken terabytes of photos, suddenly took a giant leap onto another sapling ten feet away, and then disappeared into the dark, catapulting himself from tree to tree like some fluffy, overgrown grasshopper.

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In the short six weeks we've been here in Sarawak, I've seen my fair share of cool animals, but this one absolutely took the cake. Later in the car, and even after our return home, my son and I would retell and relive the awesome experience over and over again....

DISCLAIMER: Apologies for the creeper messing up the composition in some of the close-ups, but there was no way to remove that....


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 4:54 am 

Joined: November 4th, 2010, 2:43 pm
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Ok, chalk it up for a "I never knew this even existed". It has a bit of an aye aye vibe to me.

Wow.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 8:03 am 
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Joined: June 9th, 2010, 6:17 am
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not too shabbeh


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 8:08 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 6:45 am
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Location: One of the boys from Illinois
awesome little mogwai. Don't feed 'em after midnight....

Really cool, Hans.

-Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 8:53 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 12:37 pm
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Location: Ft. Smith, Arkansas
Pretty sweet for a snakeless post! Haha. I'm not a much of a mammal guy, but I've always had a soft spot for little buggly eyed primates... Tarsiers and slow lorises are just awesome.

Congrats and thanks for sharing, Hans!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 9:28 am 
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Joined: October 28th, 2010, 4:34 am
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Location: based in UK
Fantastic post! you got some amazing shots of the Tarsier, especially the last action shot, you must be one of the few people to witness the bowel movements of a Tarsier :P


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 1:02 pm 
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Joined: June 16th, 2010, 12:26 pm
Posts: 561
Very nice, Hans. I encountered a Slow Loris but did not find Tarsiers in Borneo. They are great little animals.

Quote:
Image
This is Lyssa zampa. A good source for the Bornean moths is here:
http://www.mothsofborneo.com/


Regards,
David


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 3:46 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:21 pm
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Location: Guerrero, Mexico
So you just climbed a bit on my LUCKY SOB scale. That is one of my "dream" animals.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 6:09 pm 

Joined: October 28th, 2010, 3:26 pm
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Mike Pingleton wrote:
awesome little mogwai. Don't feed 'em after midnight....

Really cool, Hans.

-Mike


HA!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 1st, 2011, 9:10 pm 
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Love it, Hans!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2011, 2:00 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks for the nice comments, fellers!

Quote:
It has a bit of an aye aye vibe to me.

That's what I thought, especially with those fingers. Only the aye-aye looks a tad more demonic :-)

Quote:
awesome little mogwai.

Hahaaaaa....by the way, that means "demon" in Mandarin Chinese. The gremlins came from a Chinese shop, didn't they?

Quote:
Don't feed 'em after midnight....

Speaking of feeding - tarsiers are badass little moppets: they don't just stuff their faces with crickets and moths, but also catch bats and snakes...VENOMOUS snakes (corals, for one)

Quote:
Tarsiers and slow lorises are just awesome.

Slow lorises are next on my wish list. They seem to be easier to find (and photograph, of course), too.

Quote:
This is Lyssa zampa. A good source for the Bornean moths is here:
http://www.mothsofborneo.com/

Thanks so much!


Still no ID on the red frog? Anyone?


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2011, 2:30 am 
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Joined: October 28th, 2010, 4:34 am
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Location: based in UK
Do you have any photos of the Palmar aspect of the hands and feet? its a Kalophrynus for sure and stunning at that!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2011, 3:37 am 
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
frogshot wrote:
Do you have any photos of the Palmar aspect of the hands and feet?

No, he neither waved nor shook his foot at us :-) Seriously, that would have been asking too much....like asking him to defecate for the camera, haha. In which situation would one have seen the palmar aspect? I assume only when the tarsier leaps?

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its a Kalophrynus for sure and stunning at that!

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2011, 5:03 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:23 am
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Location: Unicoi, TN
Great find, Hans.
.
Sounds like you guys are really settling in.
Thanks for sharing.
Bill

PS I found Slow Loris to be very common in London; Fast Loris too.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2011, 7:10 am 
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Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
No, he neither waved nor shook his foot at us Seriously, that would have been asking too much....like asking him to defecate for the camera, haha. In which situation would one have seen the palmar aspect? I assume only when the tarsier leaps?


:shock: Lol I meant for the frog! the webbing extent and presence / absence / number of tubercles are often a species characteristic.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2011, 10:48 am 
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Location: One of the boys from Illinois
BillMcGighan wrote:
\

PS I found Slow Loris to be very common in London; Fast Loris too.


Ba-dump-ching!

:thumb:


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2011, 7:27 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
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Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
That was my biggest miss in Borneo and Sumatra. Nice job!!!



Curtis


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 4th, 2011, 2:19 pm 
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Joined: June 22nd, 2010, 9:48 pm
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Very very cool Hans, I am once again crippled with envy.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2011, 9:03 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Thanks again!

frogshot wrote:
Hans Breuer (twoton) wrote:
No, he neither waved nor shook his foot at us Seriously, that would have been asking too much....like asking him to defecate for the camera, haha. In which situation would one have seen the palmar aspect? I assume only when the tarsier leaps?


:shock: Lol I meant for the frog! the webbing extent and presence / absence / number of tubercles are often a species characteristic.

Oh. The frog. Well, to paraphrase Ving Rhames in Striptease: "Do I look like I pay attention to frogs?" :-) But I shall pay more attention next time, promised. However, you'll first have to tell me what a tubercle is. Do I need to wear a face mask before approaching it?


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 24th, 2011, 8:56 am 
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Location: Yorkshire, England
Quality! Thanks for the post.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: September 24th, 2011, 9:13 am 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:06 am
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What an awesome animal to see! Thanks for sharing.


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: February 9th, 2012, 8:37 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Science update - they're NOT silent!

http://io9.com/5882833/hear-the-ultraso ... d-primate/


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: February 9th, 2012, 9:15 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm
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Location: Hillsdale County, Michigan
I saw that article and was a little surprised. Spectral Tarsiers are quite vocal and that's how you look for them.



Curtis


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 Post subject: Re: Borneo Dispatches #6: Night of the Tarsier
PostPosted: February 9th, 2012, 11:27 pm 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 2:19 am
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Location: Kuching, Sarawak (Borneo)
Really? What sounds do they make?


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