Threatened Treasures

Threatened Treasures

Rare, endemic and newly discovered species of Panay

The last significant stands of primary, low elevation rainforest in the biogeographic region of the Western Visayas, located on the northwestern peninsula of Panay, is habitat of a range of highly endangered, partly endemic species of frogs, reptiles, birds, mammals, and invertebrates. It is one of the hotspots with the highest conservation priorities in the world, both in terms of the number of endangered flora and fauna per unit area, and the degree of threat these species confront. Philippine biodiversity per unit area is globally unsurpassed. This richness has been shaped for the most part by the complex paleogeographic history[hier Link zum Biogeographie-Text weiter unten setzen] of the archipelago.

(Photos by M. Paulat, E. Curio, figure composed by H. Schulze)

Gallicolumba keayi

Negros Bleeding-heart pigeon


More species of panay

Some examples: the orchid Paphiopedilum hennisianum, a nest with young tailorbirds, syntomiid moths, a Geosesarma land crab, frogs, and  fruits of two tree species whose pulp (red) is separated from the drupe with seed (black). The adaptive value of this design is its better detectability by hornbills and other frugivores as now discovered by Hagel & Curio (in prep.).

Pteropus pumilus

Little golden-mantled flying fox eating fruit of dangkalan tree (Calophyllum inophyllum)

Cacatua haematuropygia, Loriculus philippensis, Tanygnathus sumatranus everetti

Philippine Parrots: Red-vented cockatoo, hanging parrot, blue-backed parrot 

Rusa alfredi, Crateromys heaneyi, Crocidura panayensis

Visayan mammal fauna also includes the Philippine spotted deer (male), the Panay cloud runner or Bushy-tailed cloud rat, and small species like this Upland shrew which has recently been described (Hutterer 2007, see our new species page). Not to scale.

Sus cebifrons

Forest at night: The figure shows fruit bats and a pair of the endangered Visayan warty pig

Nisaetus cirrhatus

Changeable hawk-eagle, immature of light variant,
A vulnerable, yet widely distributed raptor in South Asia

Varanus mabitang

A large, black, frugivorous, arboreal monitor species (Panay Monitor Lizard), discovered on Panay by our coworker N. Paulino and described by M. Gaulke and E. Curio. The diet of this species was studied in NW Panay with the help of field observations, radio telemetry, and the analysis of feces and of stable isotopes in body tissue (dead claw tips). Accordingly, the species is predominately a vegetarian, feeding on the fruits of screw palms and some palm trees, aside from an admixture of leaves. Animal food such as crabs, insects and snails is consumed to a much lesser degree. Thus, the Panay monitor is largely a vegetarian like its closest relative, Gray’s Monitor (Varanus olivaceus) and Bitatawa Monitor (V. bitatawa) on Luzon.

Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni

Visayan writhed-billed hornbill, male
Local names: Dulungan, Kalaw

Species Projects

The BIOPAT Mabitang Project

By M. Gaulke, G. Canoy & E. Curio

To learn more about the recently described Mabitang (Varanus mabitang), an endemic and highly endangered large monitor lizard from the forests of Panay, a field study was supported by BIOPAT (Biologische Patenschaften e.V., Eschborn) for a number of years. For at least two years, three different study areas have been regularly searched for this lizard and its tracks. This search was extended to still other areas of the CPMR in the GIZ/DENR driven program toward the proclamation of PAs, as defined by the occurrence of critically endangered species. Then data recorded will lead to a more profound knowledge of its population status and its biology, enabling PhilinCon to implement concrete conservation measures. At the same time, local awareness towards the uniqueness of this remarkable lizard is increased with the help of posters and educational campaigns.

Literature concerning the Mabitang. See also general publication list M. Gaulke.