Tarsiers are scattered over Samar, Leyte, Bohol and Mindanao and in an unknown number of smaller islands such as Dinagat and Basilan. Modern genetic tools reveal that Philippine tarsiers are a group of at least three evolutionary significant units, a population of organisms that is considered distinct for purposes of conservation.
Three tarsier subspecies have been described: T. syrichta syrichta from Leyte and Samar; T. s. carbonarius from Mindanao; and T. s. fraterculnus from Bohol.
While tarsiers are used as a mascot in Bohol, the regulation of this tourism practice is weak. Many tarsiers are on display at roadside attractions in conditions described by the report as "heartbreaking, especially as these are nocturnal animals on display during the daytime."
Given the difficulties of keeping tarsiers alive in captivity, it is assumed that mortality among these animals is high, and that replacements from the wild are found when they die, the report said.
"There is a burgeoning illegal trade in tarsiers as pets, which unfortunately, is probably promoted to some degree by the tarsiers' status as tourism mascots," it said, noting that while the use of tarsiers as tourism mascots is laudable, and proves their ability to promote tourism and thereby conservation, the industry in the Philippines is in desperate need of greater oversight.
"Unfortunately, owing to weak oversight, current practices are probably exacerbating the risk of extinction, and this needs correction," it said.