(This is a tribute to the planet we call home since she will be celebrating her birthday in the days to come and this is actually first of two parts.) The Philippines is indeed a haven for wonderful animals whether it is in air, seas or in land. Strategically located in the South Eastern part of Asia, the country boasts of many animals endemic to her great or small. But denudation of the forests due to illegal logging, slash-and-burn farming, and urbanization is stripping her fabulous animals of their natural habitats and sanctuaries. Additionally, Illegal poaching and over hunting is also wreaking havoc on the conservation efforts of the country's environmentalists as well as the concerned non-governmental groups.
The country's many flora and fauna are listed as endangered, critically endangered or facing extinction. Fragile as they are, these wonderful creatures need our intervention and support in the conservation effort for the environment to ensure that they will co-exists with us humans.
Here are some of the Philippines' truly captivating animals that are threatened, endangered and/or facing extinction.
The Philippine Flying Lemur, Colugo or the Kagwang
The Philippine Flying Lemur or Colugo - Also known as Kagwang by local folks, this fascinating mammal can be mistaken as a big bird as they are like flying gracefully in mid air. Kagwang has a head that resembles like that of dog and its body can be likened to the Canadian flying lemur. The Kagwang is actually gliding in the air not flying and it is adept in doing so. Commonly found in Mindanao, this awesome creature has 12-inch tail that is connected by a petagium, a membrane that stretches from the neck to the forelimbs to the hind feet to the tail. With this remarkable feature, the Kagwang is built to glide to a distance of 100 meters or more to escape being eaten as a meal by predators like the majestic Philippine Eagle and to conveniently move from one place to another.
The Philippine Sea Turtle or Pawikan
The Philippine Sea Turtle - Also called here as Pawikan this marine creature patrols the open sea and when hungry will stalk on small fishes, crustaceans and jellyfishes. It is saddening to know that some of these dies of suffocation by eating plastic or balloons (the busted ones that find its way in the sea or ocean), that are mistaken as a yummy jellyfish.
The Philippines is home to four of the only six sea turtles species in the world. The Green Sea Turtle is the most common species, that can grow to a length of one and a half meters, and can weigh up to 185 kgs. The largest sea turtle in the country is the Leatherback, which can weigh up to more than 2 meters in length.
The Philippine Mouse Deer or Pilandok
The Philippine Mouse Deer - In other countries this animal is also called chevrotain but in the Philippines it is called Pilandok. Although, not really specie of deer,Pilandok can only be found in the Philippines. The right tag for this awesome creature is a mouse deer, to be precise and accurate. The male ones don't grow horns but will rely more on its larger front canine tusk-like teeth on its upper jaw to fend off the attacks of a predator. Other types of mouse deer can also be found in South East Asia, Sri Lanka and India.
Calamian Deer - This hog deer is unique of its kind and can only be found in the Philippines. The Calamian deer habitat is in the Calamian Islands, which is located in the Northern part of the Palawan province.
Its legs are larger and darker than their other hog deer cousins. This lovely animal can reach up to 115 cms. in length and 65 cms. in height, and can weight up to 35 to 50 kgs.
Tamaraw - The cousin of the water buffalo, carabao, or the so-called "Beast of Burden," tamaraw is endemic only to the Philippines and to be specific in Mindoro. It is recognizable by its "V" form horn and usually smaller than the carabao. Now critically endangered, this animal can measure up to five to six feet in length and can weigh up to 300 kgs.
The Palawan Bearcat or Binturong
Binturong - The Palawan bearcat or the Binturong is another case of an animal with a mistaken identity, since it is neither a bear nor a cat. It is unique on its own. Thriving gallantly in the forest of Palawan, Borneo, Burma and Vietnam, this animal belong to the family of Viverridae, which is prominently known as the civets or the civet cats. This animal can measure up to 96 cms., has a tail that is as long as its body, can weigh up to 14 kgs. and has life expectancy of about 20 years.
The Philippine Cockattoo or the Kalangay
Kalangay - This lovely Philippine cockatoo, which has snowy white feathers throughout her body, belongs to the family of parrots. Can live up to 50 long years, this magnificent and very smart bird (see the amazing antics of this bird by visiting this link: Fascinating Animal Tactics), the Kalangay can measure up to 33 cms. in length and can weigh up to 0.39 kgs. The population of Kalangay, is estimated to be in between 1,000 to 4,000, and they are now protected in Subterranean River National Park one of the frontrunners in the quest for the seven natural wonders of the world that was launched by http://sevennaturalwonders.org/ last year.
Butanding or the Whale Shark
Butanding - The whale shark or the Butanding as what they call this mighty creatures here, is the largest fish in the world. A group of about 40 whale sharks regularly visit this once sleepy and rustic town, that is, the Donsol, Sorsogon from November to June, which is the most in the world. Several years ago this tamed sea creatures was considered as a nuisance since they can capsize a fisherman's boat or destroy their nets because of their enormous size. Moreover, some fisherman hunted them down for their meat. But thing change dramatically as Donsol, where this whale shark abounds in droves became an instant eco-tourism destination. Additionally, the town thanks to these gentle creatures, stages the fun-filled Butanding Festivalannually.