The Philippines is a tropical island nation teeming with biodiversity. The country is home to a staggering number of unusual and endemic species, many of which are also vulnerable, threatened, or critically endangered.
Bats and Gliding Mammals
The Philippine flying lemur, or "colugo," is a nocturnal gliding mammal that is endemic to the southern Philippines. These animals live in the tree canopies of heavily forested areas, rarely coming down to the ground. Their patagium, a web-like membrane connecting its limbs, is the largest of its kind and is used for gliding distances of up to 330 feet. It also functions as a pouch for protecting offspring. In the wild, colugos eat young leaves and shoots, soft fruits and flowers. However, as deforestation degrades their natural habitat, more and more animals are wandering into coconut, banana and rubber plantations, where they are killed as pests. The more common Mindanao flying squirrel is another gliding mammal endemic to the Philippines.
The Palawan fruit bat, also known as the Palawan flying fox, is a species of mega-bat endemic to the Philippines. Similar to many of its relatives, it is nocturnal and feeds on fruits. However, these bats do not roost together in large numbers. It is currently listed as a vulnerable species due to hunting and habitat loss.
Endemic to two islands in the central Philippines, the Visayan warty pig is a critically endangered species. The pig is so named for the six fleshy warts near its snout. 95% of their natural habitat has been cleared for crops, and its food sources are now extremely limited. It is also hunted for its food and fur.
The oriental small-clawed otter is the smallest otter on earth, weighing less than twelve pounds. It can be found in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of the Philippines and other countries such as Burma, India, Laos and Vietnam. This otter species is classified as vulnerable due to ongoing habitat loss and pollution.
Palawan stink badgers are endemic to the Philippine island of Palawan and two of its smaller neighboring islands. They are nocturnal, slow-moving, and non-aggressive. Living primarily in grasslands and cultivated areas, they are among the few wild animals not eaten by local islanders. Predators and hunters are deterred by their ability to spray powerful noxious chemicals from special glands. Another Philippine mammal with this ability is the Asian palm civet. Native to South and Southeast Asia, the palm civet is as at home in forests as well as city parks and gardens. Urban civet populations are considered a nuisance, similar to North American raccoons.
The false killer whale shares certain characteristics with the more widely-known orca, such as its appearance and dietary patterns, although the two cetaceans do not belong to the same genus. It lives in temperate and tropical waters across the globe. The pan-tropical spotted dolphin shares the same habitat. Once a threatened species, the development of "tuna-friendly" capture methods has allowed it to become one of the most abundant dolphin species on earth. This active dolphin is often seen playing with boats or making dazzling leaps out of the sea.
The dugong is a large, gentle marine mammal closely related to the manatee. Its habitat stretches throughout the Indo-West Pacific, primarily in coastal seagrass meadows located in mangrove channels and protected bays. With an average lifespan of over seventy years and slow rate of reproduction, the dugong is especially vulnerable to extinction. Populations have been declining due to fishing-related fatalities, hunting and habitat loss.