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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, August 24, 2020
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with Errol A. Gatumbato

Negros critically endangered mammals

Rock & Refuge

Negros Island has the most number of critically endangered mammals in the country, based on the latest Red List of Threatened Species of the Philippines, issued by the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Five of the eight mammals listed under this category are found in Negros.

Critically endangered is the highest level of threat assigned to species that are facing extreme danger to extinction in the wild.

These five species found in Negros are the Visayan spotted deer (Cervusalfredi), Visayan warty pig (Suscebifrons), Philippine bare-backed fruit bat (Dobsoniachapmani), Golden-crowned fruit bat (Acerodonjubatos), and Dugong (Dugong dugon). The three other species listed as critically endangered are the Tamaraw (Bubalusmindorensis) and Ilin hairy-tailed rat (Crateromys Paulus), both species endemic to Mindoro, and the Dinagat cloud rat (Crateromysaustralis), a species restricted in the island province of Dinagat.

The Golden-crowned fruit bat and Dugong are similarly found in other areas of the country, and the latter is the only marine mammal listed as critically endangered.

The population of the Visayan spotted deer and the Visayan warty pig is presently limited in Negros and Panay since these two species are already extinct in their former range, specifically in Ticao, Masbate, Guimaras, and Cebu.

The Philippine bare-backed fruit bat, also known as the Negros naked-backed fruit bat, was formerly declared extinct because it has never been recorded since 1964. This species was known to occur in Negros until it was discovered in Cebu in 2001, and was later on rediscovered in southern Negros Occidental in 2003. This species of fruit bat remains critically endangered because its survival is still uncertain, especially that the lowland forests in Negros, where the species inhabits, are now very limited.

Having the most number of critically endangered mammals clearly indicates that the species found in Negros are not yet secured, and may soon get extinct in the wild if conservation measures should not be scaled up. The most critical action is the protection of these species from hunting as well as the protection and rehabilitation of their habitats.

It is, therefore, of paramount importance that habitat restoration shall be initiated in areas where the species are occurring.

There is no recent count as to the population of the critically endangered mammals found in Negros.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, an organization that has pioneered the classification of threatened species, has described critically endangered as those species that are facing extreme high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future. The DENR has adopted as well this definition on its list of threatened species. In addition, however, the DENR applies this threat category to species presumed to be extinct but was rediscovered.

The population of both the Visayan spotted deer and Visayan warty pig in Negros is spread in the Mount Kanla-on Natural Park, Northern Negros Natural Park, and Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park, as well as in Mount Talinis, also known as Cuernos de Negros, and South Western Negros Key Biodiversity Area, a mountain straddling Sipalay and Hinoba-an in Negros Occidental and Bayawan in Negros Oriental. These species have been widely hunted in the past for their meat.

The Negros Forest and Ecological Foundation Inc., with the late British wildlife biologist William Oliver, had made remarkable success in the captive breeding of the Visayan spotted deer and Visayan warty pig in Bacolod City. The captive breeding program of these two species and some other equally threatened species is now being administered and managed by the Talarak Foundation in what is now known as the Negros Forest Park.

One of the main purposes of captive breeding is to repopulate the species in areas where they formerly occurred but are now devoid of such species, or what we call reintroduction to vacant habitats.*

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