The Philippines is one of the world's hotspots for endemic species. The Southeast Asian island nation features rich biodiversity and touts one of the highest rates of new species discovery, with 16 new mammal species discovered in the last 10 years. Sadly, many Philippine unique species are under threat from hunting, logging and development. Only about 7 percent of the nation's old-growth forests are left, a primary habitat for many endemic species.
The Philippines has one of the highest rates of mammal endemism in the world, with more than 100 endemic mammal species out of 167 identified mammal species. One such species is the tamaraw, or dwarf water buffalo, which only can be found on the island of Mindoro and is also the largest endemic mammal in the country. Once numbered more than 10,000, the species is critically endangered with fewer than 300 living now. Other endemic mammals include the Philippine warty pig, the Visayan spotted deer, Negros naked-backed fruit bat and the Palawan bearcat. The Philippines is home to the world's largest bat, the golden-capped fruit bat, as well as the world's smallest primate, the Philippine tarsier.
More than 180 species -- 35 percent -- of birds in the Philippines are endemic. The most well-known is perhaps the Philippine eagle, which evolved to become the jungle's alpha predator, feeding upon lemurs, civets, macaques, reptiles and other birds. One of the world's largest eagles, the bird is critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 700. Other endemic birds include the Negros bleeding heart, the Cebu flowerpecker, the Philippine scops owl and the Luzon hornbill.
Reptile and Amphibian Species
The Philippines has a 67 percent endemism rate for reptiles and a whopping 85 percent endemism rate for amphibians. The country is home to 10 species of endemic flying lizards, which glide from tree to tree using flaps of skin. It's also home to the critically endangered Philippine crocodile, of which there is a population of fewer than 100 remaining. The country is home to the large sailfin lizard, so called for the prominent ridge that rises along the spine of male specimens. Amphibians include the panther flying frog and the flat-headed frog.
About 70 percent of the Philippines 21,000 recorded insect species are considered endemic. Among the insects are some 300 butterfly species, including the red-bodied swallowtail, the common mime, the great eggfly butterfly, the scarlet mormon and the silverline butterfly. There are many brightly colored insects, such as the domed planthopper and the jewel beetle. The Philippines is also home to several species of endemic stick insects.
- Conservation International: Philippines
- IUCN Redlist; Bubalus mindorensis
- Palawan Council for Sustainable Development: Palawan Fauna
- Bohol Philippines: Philippine Tarsier
- Philippine Eagle Foundation: Philippine Eagle Biology and Ecology
- Project Noah: Philippine Endemic Species
- Oregon Zoo: Philippine Sailfin Lizard
- The Science and Technology Network of the Philippines: DOST Union Catalog
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Currently living in Austin, Texas, Alexander Harris is a business journalist covering the self storage industry for SpareFoot.com and SelfStorage.com. Harris previously wrote daily news for RichmondBizSense.com, a business journal in his hometown of Richmond, Va. His work has appeared in various other publications including "Philadelphia Citypaper," Stateline.org, "RVA Magazine" and the "Virginian-Pilot." Harris holds a mass communications degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.