Izah Morales INQUIRER.net A NEW rodent species discovered in May 2006 in Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental needs a wider area of habitat, researchers said. Currently, the Batomys hamiguitan or the Hamiguitan hairy-tailed rat lives in the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which is 6,834 hectares in total surface area. However, this sanctuary is adjacent to seven Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) also in Mt. Hamiguitan which cover 17,572 hectares, which is half of the mountain's cover. Leonilo Rivera, DENR Protected Area and Wildlife Division Chief of Region XI, said that expanding the protected area will take some time. However, Edwin Domingo, assistant director of DENR Mines and Geosciences Bureau, clarified that there is no mining activity yet in Mt. Hamiguitan. "We don't have any conflict with [the] protected area. Normally, pinag-aaway kami [they let us fight]. Any and all protected and critical areas proclaimed as watershed are closed to mining applications, so if by chance, nagsubmit ka sa amin ng [you submit an] application, and we find out when we double check that you're encroaching in this, we have to tell you that you have to [take] that out," said Domingo. Domingo said the mining applications have already existed prior to the proposal to make the area a protected area. "It is not up to us in the DENR to make that categorical statement because in the NIPAS [National Integrated Protected Areas System] law, there is a procedural guideline. There is a process for consultation. We are not in the position to say, yes or no," said Domingo when asked on their action on the requested expansion of the protected area. Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System NIPAS law protects "outstandingly remarkable areas and biologically important public lands that are habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals representative of bio-geographic zones and related ecosystems." Through Republic Act 9303, Mt. Hamiguitan was declared as a protected area under the category of wildlife sanctuary in July 2004. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, Mt. Hamiguitan includes at least 11 endangered vertebrate species. "We are requesting the Protected Area Management Board to consider expanding the current protected to cover the majority of the habitat of the rare and restricted Hamiguitan hairy-tailed rat," said Jayson Ibañez, coordinator of the field research program of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF). Researchers from the US-based Field Museum of Natural History discovered the Hamiguitan hairy-tailed rat during an expedition in the Davao region. Researchers along with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the PEF collected specimens from Mt. Hamiguitan and conducted a biodiversity survey that led to the discovery of the new species. "It took three years because we compared it with other specimens to determine whether it's a new species," said Ibañez. "The Hamiguitan hairy-tailed rat is the first mammal to be described from Eastern Mindanao and is the first mammal that is thought to live only in that area. Most mammals unique to Mindanao were described from Mt. Apo or Mt. Kitanglad. This points eastern Mindanao, especially Mt. Hamiguitan as a biologically unique part of the Philippines," added Danilo Balete, team leader and lead author from the Field Museum of Natural History. In a statement released by DENR, it described the Hamiguitan hairy-tailed rat as a yellow-brown animal with a long furry tail, which weighs about 175 grams and lives only in elevations of 950 meters and up, and in dwarf mossy forests of areas less than 10 square kilometers. Ibañez added that four species of the genus Batomys can be found in the country. The species Batomys dentatus and Batomys granti lived in Luzon, Batomys salomonseni in Mindanao, and Batomys russatus in the Dinagat Island. DENR Secretary Lito Atienza said that there is a very high rate of more discoveries of new species in the country, but some of these species might already be threatened before they are discovered. "The Philippines has one of the largest numbers of unique species of mammals [in] any place in the world; over 125 mammal species live only in the Philippines. There is truly a wealth of animal and plant life here that is worth protecting," said Lawrence Heaney, curator of Mammals at the Field Museum, in a statement. The Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau endorsed the inclusion of Mt. Hamiguitan to the UNESCO World Heritage. "Mt. Hamiguitan fully deserves to be among the global heritage sites," said Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau director Mundita Lim. The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources and Development (PCCARD) noted in its website that Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental is also the country's largest pygmy forest, which is also known as a bonsai forest. PCCARD reported that the mountain has been a home to five endangered species, 27 rare species, 44 endemic species and 59 economically important species. These include the golden-crown flying fox, Philippine tarsier, Philippine warty pig, Philippine brown deer, Philippine Mossy-pygmy Fruit Bat, and the Asian Palm Civet.
Recently in Animals Category
We recently got this feedback from Mr. Romeo Ybanes.
Why haven't your reporter and editor realized until this Feb. 12 issue that the 'dolphins' that were stranded in Bataan were in fact melon-headed whales. He could have asked the animal experts that checked the whales for the correct identity of the species. I'm sick and tired of reading wrong information in prestigious newspapers like PDI. This is the result of reporters who don't check the facts before reporting.This article written by INQUIRER.net reporter Alex Villafania identifies these animals stranded off the coast of Bataan as Melon-headed whales.
MANILA, Philippines – Tuesday's stranding of an unusual number of melon-headed whales in the coast of Pilar, Bataan should spur the government to pursue more studies on the country's marine mammals, an expert said Wednesday.The story further quotes an expert that says that the melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra) are listed under the family Delphinidae, commonly known as dolphins. Also, check out this slideshow of actual photos of the stranded melon-headed whales:
On Tuesday morning, news of hundreds of dolphins stucked in the shallow waters in Bataan baffled scientists from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). What could have driven these animals to shore at the risk of drowning. According to one Filipino scientist, the dolphins could be reacting to a "heat wave or disturbance at sea" such as a possible major underwater earthquake. Some interesting details from the Izah Morales' story on INQUIRER.net:
Dolphins, which are mammals, have ears that are sensitive to large changes in pressure underwater, he said. "If their eardrums are damaged they become disorientated and they float up to the surface." ...smaller schools of dolphins numbering "in the tens and twenties" had beached themselves elsewhere in the Philippines previously, but this was the first time so many had done so at the same time and place.This story was eventually picked up by foreign media, including the Daily Mail, which collated photos of the phenomenon. What drove those animals to swim to shallow waters? (Photo courtesy of AFP)
Agence France-Presse CHICAGO--Tickle a locust's hind legs and two hours later it will be transformed into an insect ready to form a crop-devastating swarm. While researchers know why -- the tickling simulates the jostling that usually solitary locusts experience when limited food suppliers force them to crowd -- they have puzzled for decades over how the radical biological transformation occurs. A study released Thursday by the journal Science found that the brain chemical serotonin triggers the switch from aversion to attraction. "Serotonin profoundly influences how we humans behave and interact, so to find that the same chemical in the brain is what causes a normally shy antisocial insect to gang up in huge groups is amazing," said study co-author Swidbert Ott of Cambridge University. The researchers discovered that locusts in swarm mode -- called gregarious locusts -- had serotonin levels three times higher than those in a solitary behavior phase. Once in this phase, the green locusts turn bright yellow, gain large muscles that equip them for prolonged flight and actively seek the company of other locusts. They can develop into swarms of billions and fly 60 miles (96 km) in five to eight hours in search of food. But when they were injected with serotonin-blocking chemicals, locusts still in their antisocial phase remained calm and did not transform into the swarm phase in response to the leg tickling or presence of a crowd. And when the locusts were injected with chemicals that stimulated serotonin they were transformed into the swarm phase without the stimulus. "Up until now, whilst we knew the stimuli that cause locusts' amazing 'Jekyll and Hyde'-style transformation, nobody had been able to identify the changes in the nervous system that turn antisocial locusts into monstrous swarms," said study co-author Michael Anstey of University of Oxford. "The question of how locusts transform their behavior in this way has puzzled scientists for almost 90 years, now we finally have the evidence to provide an answer." While the discovery "harbors considerable potential" for dealing with the harmful insects, it will not likely to a short-term pest control solution, said Paul Anthony Stevenson of Germany's Leipzig University. "To be effective, antiserotonin-like chemicals would need to be applied when the animals are solitary locusts and scarce targets in vast expanses of desert -- about three locusts per 100 square meters (1,076 sq ft)," Stevenson wrote in an accompanying article. "Current serotonergic drugs are not designed for passing through the insect cuticle and sheath encasing the nervous system, nor are they insect-selective, hence their use is ecologically unjustifiable."