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North Sulawesi Wildlife Exploration: Looking for Tarsiers at Tangkoko Nature Reserve

The Tangkoko National Park is a big nature reserve on the northeast tip of Sulawesi island in Indonesia, not too far from Manado city of North Sulawesi . This park covers more than 8,700 hectares (21,000 acres) of fantastic jungle, and there are hundreds of unique animal species living in the area. Around 80 kilometres from Manado in the very northern part of Sulawesi is Tangkoko Nature Reserve. The reserve is home to some of the world’s most incredible and rarest animals, so for nature lovers or those looking for a real adventure a tour to Tangkoko is a must! You are likely to see all kinds of primates, birds, insects and incredible flora as well. But most people come to Tangkoko National Reserve  with the hope of seeing tarsiers, one of the smallest known primates, but to do this you must follow the rules of the park and be informed about the best way to stay safe while in the area. Located at the foot of Dua Saudara Mountain, the Tangkoko Nature Reserve is comprised of rolling hills and valleys with a variety of hardwood trees and unusual plant life. The animal life is also quite varied, and one can often view Tarsius tarsier (one of the smallest known primates), black tailless monkeys, snakes, spiders and kuskus (marsupials). Tangkoko Batuangus Reserve offers a suitable protective environment to help prevent these animals from becoming extinct.

Indonesia Impression team will take you to explore deep into the forest of Tangkoko National Park during the 4-day tour, to discover its huge variety of species of flora and fauna, such as the endemic crested black macaques. It’ll be so much fun to spot them playing in groups or sometimes fighting each other. In this rich natural reserve, off course you will also find Tarsier one of the smallest primate in the world.  The climate of Indonesia is tropical, so the weather is hot and humid year round. For north Sulawesi especially to Tangkoko National Reserve , the best time to visit is from April to May to November, when the conditions are more dry and sunny.

The Creature Feature: 10 Fun Facts About Tarsiers

Most recently, tarsiers have been divided into three species groups, or genera: Western, Eastern, and Philippine, containing 18 species or subspecies (Sources : Across species, all tarsiers share certain characteristics. They are all nocturnal and tend to be small, weighing between 80 and 150 g. They have soft, velvety fur, which is generally gray, buff, beige, or ochre. All tarsiers have long hind legs and long tails that are either sparsely covered in fur or have a tuft at the end. Although their bodies are slender, tarsiers look round due to their habit of crouching while clinging to branches. Their most distinctive features may be their round heads, remarkably large eyes, and their mobile, bat-like ears.

Read on to learn more about these adorable and unusual primates.

  1. They were once found all around the world. Tarsiers were once more widespread — fossils have been found in Asia, Europe, and North America. All the species living today are restricted to the islands of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Sulawesi, Borneo, and Sumatra.
  2. They haveenormous eyes. Tarsiers have the largest eyes of any mammal in relation to their body size. Each eyeball is about 16 mm in diameter and weighs nearly as much as the animal’s brain.
  3. They can turn their heads like they’re in The Exorcist. Tarsiers, thanks to specially adapted vertebrae, are able to turn their heads 180 degrees in each direction.
  4. Tarsiers are built for leaping. The hind limbs of tarsiers are about twice as long as their bodies, due mostly to the extremely elongated tarsus bones of the feet, from which the animals get their name. Their hind limbs are longer in proportion to body length than in any other mammal. In addition to their long tarsals, tarsiers also have well-developed leg muscles. These specializations enable tarsiers to leap over 5 meters, more than 40 times their own body length. Tarsiers spend most of their time clinging to vertical tree branches and move through their environment primarily through leaping, although they can also climb, walk, and hop.
  5. Their fingers are elongated and sticky. Tarsiers have long, thin fingers, with the longest third finger about the same length as the upper arm. Their fingers are tipped with sticky pads that help them grip and cling to surfaces. The second and third fingers bear long, curved claws which are used for grooming (these are sometimes called “toilet claws”).
  6. Tarsier brains differ from those of other primates. They have a unique connection between their eyes and the lateral geniculate nucleus, an area of the brain that receives visual information. This distinguishes tarsiers from lemurs, lorises, and monkeys, suggesting that they arose in an early, independent line of primate evolution.
  7. Some tarsiers live in families, while others are loners. Social behavior varies between the tarsier species. Eastern tarsiers are the most sociable, living in small family groups, while Western tarsiers appear to be more solitary.
  8. Tarsiers are the only entirely carnivorous primate. Tarsiers eat mostly insects, but also prey on birds, snakes, and lizards. They have strong jaws and teeth and a wide mouth for their small size, which enables them to consume larger prey.
  9. Tarsier babies are the largest relative to the size of the mother of any mammal. Female tarsiers give birth to a single baby that weighs 25-30% of the mother’s body weight. Young tarsiers are born with fur and their eyes open and can climb trees within a day of birth. Mothers carry their young in their mouths or on their backs.
  10. Tarsiers are very vocal. The number and types of vocalizations vary between species, with spectral tarsiers producing 15 different groups of vocalizations (including alarm calls, food calls, infant calls, and play whistles) and Western tarsiers producing just four kinds of calls. In some tarsier species, mated pairs perform vocal duets, often at dusk and dawn. In addition to vocalizing, all tarsiers use scent marking as a form of communication. They have scent glands in their face, stomach, and genital regions and rub their glands on trees, bushes, and each other to defend territories and confirm group membership.

If you’re a nature and outdoors enthusiast, our private Indonesia Impression Sulawesi Tangkoko trekking packages hit the very best wildlife-watching destinations in Tangkoko National Park. Surround yourself with black-crested macaques leaping from tree to tree, Sulawesi hornbill flying overhead and spotted tarsier hiding beneath a leaf. Spend your day to unveil Sulawesi wildlife in Tangkoko National Park with stay in the lodge nearby. The ranger guide in Tangkoko nature reserve will take you to a tree that is locally famed as the home of a family of Tarsiers. Often you can spot groups of black macaque monkey’s there. A critically endangered monkey that will only found in Sulawesi wildlife. Walk up super close to these adorable monkeys and one of the groups let us hang out with them for a bit. After lunch, we continue to hike through the forest. See other interesting animals such as Sulawesi bear cuscus, endemic Sulawesi dwarf kingfisher, ochre-bellied boobooks, and magnificent drongo. Further, there are beautiful big trees and you’ll discover the island’s unique mammals and birds.

Best way to get to Tangkoko National Park is start your trip from Bali with the first step is to fly to Sam Ratulangi International Airport (MDC) in Manado with transit in Ujung Pandang, Makassar, South Sulawesi . Tangkoko National Park is in north Sulawesi, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) east of Manado, but it takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to drive there because of the winding jungle roads.

The best part about the Tangkoko Nature Reserve in North Sulawesi is that it’s super easy to visit on a budget, and wildlife sightings are practically guaranteed.

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