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Archive for September, 2007

Is it too late?

Just the other day, online news sources reported that a new species of fruit bat was discovered from the lowland forests of Mt. Siburan in Sablayan, Mindoro Occidental. According to Protected Areas and Wildlife Director Mundita Lim, the Mindoro Stripe-Faced Fruitbat (Styloctenium mindorensis)–another species endemic to the Philippines and the island of Mindoro, much like the Tamaraw–raises the total bat species in the country to 74, of which 26 are found only in the Philippine Islands.

Not three months ago, a team of biologists from Conservation International-Philippines went on an expedition to Mt. Mantalingahan in Southern Palawan. There, they similarly discovered new species of animals and plants, including a shrew; a terrestrial orchid; and a parrot finch; as well as the rediscovery of the Palawan soft-furred mountain rat. All of these are highly likely to be endemic to the island of Palawan. You may find out more about the wildlife discoveries from a press release by CI-Phils posted previously on this blog here.

And then, in the summer of last year, I remember reading about the discovery of two new species: the Camiguin hanging-parrot and the Philippine forest mouse, both in the small island of Camiguin off the coast of northern Mindanao. There could probably be others more that may have been discovered just in the last five years, which I may have failed to mention here.

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[Press release – Conservation International-Philippines]

New species of animals and plants were recently discovered by a team of biologists who conducted a biodiversity survey in Mt. Mantalingahan, Palawan last June and July 2007. The survey was organized by Conservation International – Philippines to update the biodiversity data of Mt. Mantalingahan, a proposed protected area covering 120,000 hectares. Members of the team include representatives from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), South Palawan Planning Council (SPPC), Western Philippines University (WPU), Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Katala Foundation, Municipality of Rizal, Barangay Ransang, and indigenous peoples’ groups.

Unidentified shrew

The Philippines has not had a new species of shrew discovered for the past 40 years or so, until this still undescribed species was discovered on Mt. Mantalingahan this year (photo© CI, D.S. Balete).

“All I was looking forward to when we started this survey was to rediscover some of the small mammals that were first discovered and described from Mt. Mantalingahan but had not been seen for almost five decades now,” related Danny Balete, a mammal specialist who is part of the survey team. On the very first day of the survey, working at their first study site at 1,550 meters above sea level (masl), the team already had two remarkable finds. “This survey has been amazingly successful. The Palawan soft-furred mountain rat, Palawanomys furvus, that they have rediscovered has not been seen since it was first discovered in 1962,” said Dr. Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at the Field Museum in Chicago and long-time researcher in the Philippines. The team also discovered a new species of shrew that probably lives only in the high mountains of Palawan.

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Punong Pinoy

A couple of posts back, a reader, Rey, shared the links to these videos their group made for the Clean and Green Foundation’s Trees for Life campaign, and they’re so interesting that we thought we might as well put them up as a full post here. Trees for Life advocates for the use of native tree species – punong Pinoy – in tree-planting efforts to ensure that you’re really restoring the forests and not just “greening” things per se. This topic has been discussed in a previous post, but the message of course needs to be preached as widely as possible.

I don’t know who Rey is, and I’m not sure if I’ve met the people behind the Trees for Life campaign, but through this post at least we’re spreading the same message. It’s making these connections, reaching other groups, spreading the message, it’s all of these things that make keeping this blog so much fun.

If you’re interested in knowing more or in helping the Trees for Life campaign, call Clean and Green Foundation at 63-2-5276376 or 78 or email cgfi@itextron.com, or share these videos to your friends.

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Measuring the green sea turtleIn a previous visit to Polillo town in Quezon Province, I had an opportunity to hear a great news that a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) was rescued from an illegal trader. Alex Acuña, a fellow conservationist and staff of the Polillo Islands Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (PIBCFI), recounted that the turtle was accidentally caught by a local fisher in Polillo Strait near the town of Panukulan. But rather than returning the endangered animal to the sea, the fisher resorted to selling it instead at the town market to make money.

Fortunately at the time, a concerned resident saw the turtle being traded and immediately sought to inform the local authorities. The local police, however, had cautioned against apprehending the trader in fear of retaliation. Upon failing to enjoin the local police, the concerned individual went to inform Alex of the incident. Alex, in turn, upset at the response of the local police, approached the police and threatened to file charges against them if they refused to enforce the law. Having heard that (and probably scared out of their wits), the police together with Alex proceeded to confiscate the turtle from the illegal trader.

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