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Wildlife of Polillo Island, Philippines
Oxford University - University of the Philippines at Los Banos
Polillo Project 1999
WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM
Ma Victoria Hilario
Henry P. Roy Jr.
Reproduced on the internet for private study, all rights reserved
118 Sheffield Road
With the generous assistance of:
Flora and Fauna International
The Royal Geographical Society
Rio Tinto plc
The North of England Zoological Society
The Peoples Trust for Endangered species
The Henrietta Hutton Trust
The Karen Hanssen Trust
The Eden Project
The Dinam Charity
St Annes College
The Oxford University Exploration Club
The Oxford Society
The Mike Soaper Bursary
The Gilchrist Educational Trust
The Edinburgh Trust
The Albert Reckitt Trust
The Forest Lodge Garden Centre
We would like to express our sincere appreciation to all those whose involvement has been invaluable to the success of this research.
The members of the Polillo 99 project would like to thank Hon. Doris Almeda, Mayoress of the Municipality of Polillo (1998 to present) Province of Quezon, Philippines, Jimmy Passion, the Municipal Council of Polillo, William Azuala, (Division Head Community Environment and Natural resources Office, DENR-Polillo), and all staff at the Polillo Community and Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO-DENR), the Municipal Forestry Department (watershed management office) and the Municipal Council of Panukulan. Further thanks to residents and community leaders of Barangay Sibulan and Pinaglubayan, Municipality of Polillo, Municipality of Burdeos and Municipality of Panukulan, Polillo Island.
We are indebted to Vicente Yngente, Remigio Romana, Matthias Bulalacao, Augusto Zafe, Pido Bulalacao, Lito Bulalacao, Dennis Bulalacao, William Bulalacao, Ricky Bulalacao, Eliazer Bulalacao, Christian Zafe, Malou Yngente and family, Marvin and colleagues. Work on Polillo would not have been possible without their support, local expertise and warm hospitality.
We would like to thank J.C.T. Gonzalez, Andre T.L. Dans, Leticia Afuang of UPLB and William Oliver of FFI. We are deeply grateful to them for mediating this research and providing sound advice and encouragement both prior to and during the field period. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with, and for support from, the Polillo Ecology Stewardship Project, which is funded by the North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo). Additional funding assistance for this scheme was also kindly provided by FFI, Vogel park Avifauna, Denver Zoological Society, West of England Zoological Society, Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens and Columbus Zoo. We further wish to acknowledge the British Library of Wildlife Sounds for their support and provision of equipment.
We would all like to further express our thanks to Dr Roger Wilkinson, Chris West and Dr Gordon McGregor-Reid (Chester Zoo), Niel Aldrin D.Mallari (Haribon Foundation), Blaz Hernaez (UPLB), Katharine Gotto and Robin Mitchell (BP Conservation Programme), Roger Sison (The Philippines National Museum), Martin Speight (Oxford University), Pat Wisniewski, Richard Ranft (the British Library of Wildlife Sounds), Sandy Duncan (BP Amoco, Philippines), Michael Riley (the British Embassy, Manila), Liza G.Dans and Juan Cornejo.
The South Luzon Faunal region is one of the worlds biodiversity hotspots and one of the worlds highest priority regions for conservation concern in terms of both numbers of threatened endemic species represented and degrees of threat. High levels of deforestation in the Philippines has put much of the archipelagos fauna at risk. The small island of Polillo has an unusually high amount of endemicity amongst several key vertebrate groups; amphibians, lizards and birds. Polillo harbours several internationally threatened keystone species with highly restricted distributions such as Grays monitor lizard, the Philippine cockatoo, the Tarictic hornbill, The Giant Golden-crowned flying fox, the Philippine warty pig and the Philippine rusa. Much of the islands fauna is unknown (Phillip Alviolas Bat research this report documented 11 new island records increasing the islands bat species richness by an incredible 48%).
Because of Polillos conservation importance, a full-time wildlife warden or Ecology Steward, Vicente Yngente, the first in the Philippines, was employed in 1997 under the terms of the Polillo Island Adoption/ Wardening Scheme devised by Fauna and Flora International and local wildlife biologists, with sponsorship assistance from the North of England Zoological Society and other international conservation agencies (see below). The level of hunting and deforestation have undoubtedly been reduced and local public awareness of and interest in conservation of the islands wildlife and forests have greatly increased due to his efforts. Further research and implimentation of conservation measures identified in this report are vital, together with continued and increased support for the wildlife wardenship scheme.
Development on Polillo island is recent, but now increasing apace. During the course of our three month study a car ferry was introduced to travel between Polillo and Infanta, Luzon. There is little or no transport infrastructure on the island at present and all the barangays (villages) are therefore situated on the coast apart from Barangay Pinaglubayan close to the watershed. A road from the north to the south of the island is currently being built that will link Polillo town, to Burdeos and Panukulan in the North (the three major towns). There is only one hotel on the island but others are planned. Tourism could have a potentially large impact on island life. The islands economy is based on coconuts, which are adversely affected by the regular occurrence of typhoons and are relatively unprofitable because of the large amount of land needed to produce economically viable amounts of the key export product, copra. All drinking water for the south of the island comes from the Sibulan Watershed Reserve.
Only 200 hectares (2km2) of forest on Polillo Island have formal protection as the Sibulan Watershed Reserve. There are many small and often isolated patches of forest on the island that play an important role in supporting much of the forest wildlife. However these face the imminent threat of encroachment by coconut plantations and caribou logging. Many local residents are unaware of the important wildlife populations on the islands and that many of the animals are found only on Polillo.
A joint team of students from Oxford University and the University of the Philippines at Los Banos conducted fieldwork on Polillo from the 12th of June to the 17th of September 1999, including a five-day study in Baranguay Bati, near Panukulan, North Polillo. Studies were conducted on amphibians, bats, batflies, birds, Lizards, Grays monitor lizard Varanus olivaceus, the water monitor Varanus salvator marmoratus, and the stream systems within the Sibulan Watershed Reserve were mapped. The project aimed to facilitate conservation strategies and biological monitoring programmes on the island of Polillo based on
1) Conclusions generated from research focused on threatened and endemic taxa.
2) Provision of equipment for future monitoring and surveying
3) Exchange of techniques among expedition members.
Katie Hampson Oxford University
Chloe Galley Oxford University
Susan Walker Oxford University
Ben Martynoga Oxford University
Joseph Nicholson Oxford University
Andrew Limond Oxford University
Daniel Bennett University of Aberdeen
Phillip Alviola University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB)
Mimie Ledesma UPLB
Henry Roy UPLB
Vic Vic UPLB
JC Gonzalez UPLB
Leticia Afuang UPLB
Andre Tomas Dans
Vicente Yngente Polillo Ecology Steward
Matthias Bulalacao Forest Guard
Pido Bulalacao Polillo Island
Augusto Zafe Polillo Island
Lito Bulalacao Polillo Island
Dennis Bulalacao Polillo Island
William Bulalacao Polillo Island
Remigio Romana Polillo Island
Ricky Bulalacao Polillo Island
Ely Bulalacao Polillo Island
Toto Zafe Polillo Island
29/6/99 Arrive Manila, extend visas, visit museum, buy supplies, acclimatisation
3/7/99 Meet UPLB counterparts, visit museum and libraries, buy equipment
11/7/99 Arrive on Polillo, meet municipality officials,
13/7/99 Start fieldwork
7/9/99 Depart for Panukulan, North Polillo. Meet mayor of Panukulan and arrange trip to Baranguay Bati.
8/9/99 Depart for Bati, set up camp.
9/9/99 Start field work in Bati
13/9/99 Return to base camp
17/9/99 Depart from Polillo, arrive Los Banos
18/9/99 Complete fieldwork on Mt Maquiling, finish logistical work in Los Banos
19/9/99 Depart Los Banos, meet embassy officials
20/9/99 Depart from Manila
Grays monitor lizard Varanus olivaceus 9
Water monitor lizard Varanus salvator marmoratus 29
Bat flies 127