Palawan Moist Forests

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Pangolasian Island El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.
© WWF-Canon / Vin J. TOLEDO

About the Area

The flora and fauna of this island display more affinities with certain islands in Indonesia, especially Borneo, than other islands in the Philippines. Palawan's almost 2,000 km of irregular coastline is dotted with 1,780 islands and islets, rocky coves, and sugar-white sandy beaches. It also harbors a vast stretch of virgin forest that carpets its mountain ranges.

Two World Heritage Sites are found here: Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

It contains a diverse range of habitats including montane forests, semi-deciduous forests, lowland rain forests, and mangroves, which in turn support many different kinds of plants and animals.

Palawan has a relatively low population density, which has allowed the island to remain under fairly extensive forest cover. However, two thirds of this ecoregion has been cleared, and large areas have been degraded.

Size:
14,000 sq. km (5,500 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
The Island of Palawan in the Philippines

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Local Species
The diversity of habitats support a number of endemic mammals such as the endangered Calamian deer (Axis calamianensis), Palawan fruitbat (Acerodon leucotis), Palawan stink badger (Mydaus marchei) and the horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus anderseni).

Endemic bird fauna include the Palawan peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron emphanum), grey imperial-pigeon (Ducula pickeringii), blue-headed racquet-tail (Prioniturus platenae), Palawan flycatcher (Ficedula platenae), blue paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone cyanescens), Palawan tit (Parus amabilis), and the Palawan flowerpecker (Prionochilus plateni).
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Paul BARRUEL
Palawan peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron emphanum) drawing.
© WWF-Canon / Paul BARRUEL

Featured Species

Palawan stink badgers (Mydaus marchei)are relatively small animals, up to around 45 cm in length. They have a stocky body set on short but muscular legs. They have a long, conical shaped face with an almost hairless, flexible snout. Both eyes and ears are very small. Their front paws sport long curved claws. They are predominantly dark brown in color, with a pale yellow cap on top of the head that fades to a stripe down its back to its shoulders.

Little is known about the dietary or breeding habits of this species. The badger has been described being both diurnal and nocturnal.

Slow and ponderous, when attacked the Palawan stink badger will squirt an extremely unpleasant fluid from its anal glands over a distance of 1 m. Although very accurate with this weapon, it is reported to be not quite as noxious as that secreted by its Indonesian cousin. Palawan stink badgers are also reported to ‘play dead’ as a defense mechanism.

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Threats
Despite supporting the highest percentage of remaining forest cover in all of the Philippines, illegal logging, hunting, and regular burning seriously threaten the ecoregion. In addition, the protected area system is weak and enforcement of the existing law inadequate.
WWF's work
WWF has many ongoing projects in Palawan, Indonesia. 2 of them are as follows:
  1. Dugong Research and Conservation Project, Palawan. With its extensive seagrass beds, Green Island Bay in Roxas Municipality, Palawan, is an important habitat for the endangered dugong or sea cow. The bay is the last few remaining habitats in the world for the species that is fast declining in numbers. In 2004, the project helped establish an LGU-based marine mammal rescue network, which has been monitoring strandings and spearheading rescues of dugongs inadvertently caught by fishing gears in the area. The project provided technical support in the culture of seaweeds to encourage farmers to monitor and safeguard the seaweed areas-home to the dugong as well. The support increased seaweed production in Green Island. WWF-Philippines will continue to work with the Roxas municipality in providing institutional support for dugong conservation.
  2. In 1999-2000, WWF-Philippines prepared baseline studies for the development of the General Management Plan of the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area and the Comprehensive Land/Water Use Plan of El Nido Municipality. Enforcement actions started in 2001 resulting in seizures, apprehensions, fines and cases filed. In 2004, WWF-Philippines expanded community-based enforcement in Taytay Municipality assisting stakeholder groups in instituting enforcement systems and increasing public awareness The multi-sectoral effort in El Nido is regarded as a model in inter-sectoral collaboration, enforcement innovations and public-private partnerships. The project is supported by an East Asia Pacific - Environment Initiative grant from USAID.
WWF supports many projects to protect the range of species and their habitats found here. It helps support measures to reduce poaching and hunting, and is active in promoting environmental education programmes.

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