The Philippines has always been considered an oasis for nature lovers from across the globe, with a plethora of islands and rainforests appealing to those who wish to de-stress and reconnect with Mother Earth. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the tourism direct gross value added to the GDP is estimated at an impressive 8.6 percent. With 7,641 islands to tempt sea lovers (including Palawan, frequently topping prestigious Best Island lists from across the globe), the Philippines also boasts a rich biodiversity, with an array of sea and land animals fascinating the scientific community and tourists alike. Unfortunately, some of these creatures are in danger of being wiped out, and they need to be protected before it's too late. Here are three fascinating Pinoy animals which are in danger of extinction.
The Mindoro Crocodile
If you’ve ever heard a Mindoro croc hiss, then you know it’s an eerie experience that stays with you for a lifetime. Of course, the Mindoro crocodile isn’t the Philippines’ most famed reptile. That honor goes to Lolong, an ancient crocodile who defied the odds by living to the ripe old age of 50, dying only because he was hunted and kept in captivity. The Mindoro crocodile is a small freshwater crocodile with a broad snout and a thick bony armor. Although once found in abundance throughout the Philippines, it is now in danger of extinction. In 2013, around 36 captive crocs were released into the wild on Siargao Island, in an attempt to boost the population.
The Negros Bleeding Heart
This bird exists only on the islands of Negros and Panay. It feeds on the ground rather than in flight, making it easy prey for poachers. Its most characteristic trait is a small scarlet patch in the middle of it feathery white breast. Its crown is covered in emerald green tufts, and its inner wing bears touches of grey. Continued deforestation and hunting are endangering the beauty of this stunningly hued bird. Similar birds in Mindoro, Luzon, Mindanao, and Sulu are under similar threats. Conservation efforts include captive breeding; the first successful captive breeding of the Negros Bleeding Heart occurred in the CenTop zoological and botanical garden. These birds continue to be bred in captivity as are other native animals such as the Philippine Eagle.
The Philippine Forest Turtle
Located on the serene Palawan islands, this turtle, also known as the Palawan Turtle or the Leyte pond turtle, is under the protection of several conservation programs to increase numbers and protect it against the actions of poachers. Exploitation and habitat destruction are its two main threats. Thankfully, scientists at the Philippine Freshwater Turtle Conservation Programme are working hard to breed turtles in captivity, protect freshwater habitats and promote sustainable development in priority areas, and assist in the enforcement of laws and dissemination of information.
A country with such a lush forest and sea life logically has given rise to a plethora of beautiful species. As is the case in other parts of the world, many endemic species are at risk of extinction owing in no small part to the loss of their habitats. Conservation efforts are being carried out across the country to save one of the most invaluable jewels of this Pacific country: its animals.