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Typhoon ravaged Panay (2008)

In June 2008, typhoon 'Frank' ravaged Panay Island, flooding many regions, with 18 dead in Iloilo Province alone. PESCP was hit hard as never before, and its domiciliary town of Pandan, Antique Province, was affected equally disastrous (see photos by our coworker Arnold Demegillo showing damage in Kalibo).
The water in the streets stood chesthigh which not even the oldest inhabitants could remember to have happened before - that is the typhoon was of Tsunami proportions! One PESCP Community Conservationist in Aklan Province was killed by a landslide, another's wife was washed along with the house by the floods into the Aklan River and never seen again. PESCP's office in Tajanlangit Bldg. was damaged along with the bookkeepers' files of thousands of receipts, excel sheets for liquidation, PCs, printers, fax machines, frige -  all flooded. On top of these irreplacable losses torrents of water had found their way beneath the iron sheet roof and ravaged the PC + printer in the Manager's office even in the upper floor along with an unknown number of files, reprints, books etc. As a first emergency measure, the needs of a number of co-workers had to be addressed and the office, more precisely its sad remains, be moved to an apartment first floor in the main street of Pandan. Donations enabling PESCP to cope with this apocalypse are highly appreciated.
How you can help

Central Panay Mountain Range forest legally protected! (2008)
PESCP elected to support the DENR

For a long time the PESCP had advocated legal protection of the priceless forests of the Central Panay Mountain Range and their endemites. Now the Central Office of the DENR, Philippine Government, instructed the Regional DENR Executive Director to designate the area as 'Critical Habitat' under the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act. In living up to this mandate, the DENR Region VI, that encompasses Panay, is advised to collaborate with PESCP. Accordingly PESCP is rightly proud of being elected from among all other 'green' NGOs in the W Visayas  to contribute its knowledge, skills and financial means, as found permissive, to this noble and extremely  timely goal.

PESCP Forest Rangers on rescue missions (2007)

PESCP FRs are proud of having gone on recue missions recently. When alerted by local families the FRs swarmed out searching for missing elderly family members that had gone astray in the forest. FRs could rescue one older man alive and sadly retrieved another man and an elderly woman only after they had fallen dead. Mrs. Ibabao, the FR Coordinator, personally paid her last respects to the dead and brought them home.

New Board of Directors in our umbrella organisation PhilConserve and additional reshuffling of PESCP management (2007)

In the course of  'Filipinisation' of the PESCP the foreigners at the top of the organisation have stepped down from their positions held so far and Filipinos have been taking the helm. Accordingly Ms. Maria Theresa Ibabao became Manager, thereby replacing Mr. Thomas Kuenzel, B.Sc., who became Technical Consultant, and the PESCP's founder, Prof. Curio,  stepped down to become Scientific Adviser.

Furthermore, there have been  elections to the Board of Directors (Incorporators) of PhilConserve, the NGO under whose umbrella PESCP is working since 2005. Accordingly, during the Assembly  in October 2007, Ms. Ibabao was elected President, Dr. Enrique Sanchez,  DVM and  PESCP's vet, Vice President; PESCP's Forester Mr. John Espiritu became Secretary; Arnold Demegillo Treasurer; Mr. Leocadio Dioso Liaison Officer.

See the PhilConserve contact page for details

New NGO (2005)

The PESCP erected a non-governmental organisation, the Philippine Association for Conservation and Development, Inc. (PhilConserve), in March 2005, under whose aegis it will be operating with a focus on Panay Island. Its main objective will be the conservation of Philippine biodiversity with the local people and their sustainable economic development.
Canopy platform erected (2005)
PESCP has mounted the first Philippine canopy observation platform on a huge Almaciga tree in Panay's rain forest, near the project's Research Station Sibaliw, Buruanga, Aklan. The platform consists of a lightweight 1.6 x 1.8 m² fortified aluminum sheet supported by galvanised iron tubes and surrounded by a perlon net balustrade. The platform will allow researchers to document animals and their interactions with rain forest trees. More information.

Recent discoveries

New species discovered in the area


2002: A new species of Wolf Snake (Lycodon fausti sp. nov.) endemic to the West Visayas, described by M. Gaulke. (More details and photo).

2003 / 2004: A new endemic Panay Island race of the Mangrove Cat Snake (Boiga dendrophila levitoni) was recently described. This exquisitely beautiful snake was discovered by PESCP's able Filipino scouts (More details and photos).

Geckos (2007)

Two  new geckos have been described by the project's herpetologist, Dr. Maren Gaulke, and her colleagues, thus adding two new endemites to the herpetofauna of Panay Island:

2006: Gekko ernstkelleri, a cave-dweller,  is the third species of the genus Gekko on Panay and the only endemite of its genus there (Rösler, H., C.D. Siler, R.M. Brown, A.D. Demegillo & M. Gaulke 2007, Salamandra 42: 197-211).   (More details and photo).

2007: Luperosaurus corfieldi, a stout forest-dweller found in tree holes and under bark, is the only gecko of the genus Luperosaurus on Panay and an endemite of this island, as known so far, while another species  L.  cumingii,  comprising possibly several new species,  had long been known to occur on  other Philippine islands.  Other Luperosaurus species are known from other parts of the Oriental Faunal Region.(Gaulke, M., H. Roesler & R. M. Brown 2007, Copeia 2007/2: 413-425).  (More details and photo).


2007: A new frog species Platymantis paengi sp. nov., the Panay Limestone Frog.  (More details and photo).

See our page about  new species

More recent discoveries will be presented here soon

New distributional records for the following species:

2002: first evidence of the King Cobra, Opiophagus hannah, on Panay

2004 (published 2007): Steere's Honey-buzzard (Pernis steerei, formerly 'Barred Honey-buzzard P. celebensis) (Gewers et al. 2006, Forktail 22: 163-165)

2006: the large Chinese Bullfrog Hoplobatrachus rugulosus, a likely invasor (= alien species) of the Philippines  (Gaulke & Operiano 2006, Sauria 2006: 51)

2006: a Banded Philippine Burrowing Snake, Oxyrhabdion leporinum visayanum,

2006: a whipscorpion (Minbosius manilanus, Arachnida, Uropygi), a Philippine endemite described for Manila, Luzon  (Haupt 2007, Senckenbergiana biologica 87: 135-136).

2008: first breeding record of the Colasisi, one of the two Philippine endemic Hanging Parrot species (Loriculus philippensis regulus), on Panay (Hembra, S.S., E. Curio & J. Jamangal 2008: Papageien 21: 173-174. German)

For more details see section "New distributional records of known taxa" in our New Species page

New Publications:

Curio, E. (2008) Gehen oder bleiben? Der kluge Naturschützer und der Concorde-Fehler. ZGF Gorilla, 3/2008, 18-19. [Stay or leave? The clever conservationist and the Concorde Fallacy. German] ZGF Gorilla 3: 18-19.
In conservation, decision-makers are oftentimes confronted with the problem of carrying on with a particular agenda or giving it up to the benefit of a new, more profitable one. Humans are prone to commit the 'Concorde Fallacy': When faced with two options they often chose the one into which they have invested in the past though the wise decision would be to invest into the option with the higher net gain in the future, regardless of what has been invested in the past. Applying this insight to conservation decision-making may well lead to protecting, for example, an area with e. g. a higher biodiversity at the expense of a protected area with a lower biodiversity if the former can be maintained with the same funding or even less funding.
Similarly, if a species thought to teeter at the brink of extinction is found to be much more common all resources should flow into in situ conservation and no longer into conservation breeding no matter how much has been invested in it previously.
Gaulke, M., I. Frank & B. Tacud (2008) On the colour variability and breeding biology of some Philippine anurans. [Zur Farbvariabilität und Brutbiologie einiger philippinischer Anuren. German with Engl. Summary] SAURIA 30: 11-21.
The findings fill important gaps in our knowledge of the species-rich amphibian fauna of the Philippines. There are detailed accounts, lushly illustrated with colour images, of the intraspecific variation of colouration, breeding biology, ecology and sexual dimorphism of some frog species of Panay Island. The first description of the female of the recently discovered Platymantis paengi (see NEWS of May 2008) as well as an account of the ecology and physiological colour change of the related P. negrosensis are given in addition to the description of up to seven (!) colour forms of P. panayensis and one more frog species.  Remarkably, a second case of parental care in the Philippines,  of a (male?) P. panayensis,  i. e. by covering the eggs on a leaf with the body, is described.
Hembra, S.S., E. Curio & J. Jamangal (2008): Brutnachweis eines Philippinen-Fledermauspapageis. Papageien 21: 173-174.   (German)
(More details).
Hutterer, R. (2007). Records of shrews from Panay  and Palawan, Philippines, with the description of two new species of Crocidura (Mammalia: Soricidae). Lynx  N.S., 38: 5-20 (two colour plates).
(More details).
Siegert, A., & E. Curio (2006). Pitfall traps misrepresent the terricoline fauna in a tropical forest: a novel evaluation. Silliman J. 47: 86-94.
Barber pitfall traps are widely used the world over by zoologists and ecologists studying the soil invertebrate fauna (animals without backbones). Sampling with these traps  in both primary and secondary forest in the upland of the NW Panay Peninsula, Philippines,  in conjunction with directly observing the events at the traps revealed that a mere 21% of all individuals walking up to the opening of the  trap were caught.  This occurred  despite applying the first time a combination  of  dry trapping  (no odour from  any preservative deterring or attracting animals),  maximum retaining power and non-depletion of the surrounding fauna, factors conducive to maximising capture success. Pitfall trapping fails to represent the soil fauna both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Haupt, J. (2007). The Whipscorpion Minbosius manilanus (C. L. Koch 1843) on Panay Island (Philippines) (Arachnida, Uropygi, Thelyphonidae). Senckenbergiana biologica 87: 135-136.
(More details).
Siler, C.D., C. W. Linkem, A. C. Diesmos & A. C. Alcala (2007). A new species of Platymantis (Amphibia: Anura: Ranidae) from Panay Island, Philippines. Herpetologica 63: 351-364.
  (More details and photo).
Gaulke, M., H. Roesler & R. M. Brown (2007). A new species of Luperosaurus (Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Panay Island, Philippines, with comments on the taxonomic status of Luperosaurus cumingii (Gray, 1845). Copeia, 2007/2: 413-425.
(More details and photo).
Gaulke, M., A. V. Altenbach, A. Demegillo & U. Struck (2007). On the diet of Varanus mabitang. Mertensiella 16: 228-239.
The diet of the Panay Monitor Lizard (Varanus mabitang) was studied in NW Panay with the help of field observations, the analysis of feces and of stable isotopes in body tissue (dead claw tips). Accordingly the species is predominately a vegetarian feeding on the fruits of screw palms and some palm trees, aside from an admixture of leaves. Animal food such as crabs, insects and snails is consumed to a much lesser degree. Thus, the Panay Monitor is largely a vegetarian like its closest relative, Gray's Monitor on Luzon.
For a figure of this impressing species see our page about threatened treasures
Villanueva, J. F., E. M. Slade & E. Curio (2006): The first observations of the breeding biology of the Elegant Tit Parus elegans in the Philippines. Ecol. Birds (Ökol. Vögel) 28: 31-46.
The breeding biology of the Elegant Tit, an endemite of the Philippines, was studied for the first time in NW Panay yielding insight into the location of the under ground nest, the division of labour among the sexes, the type of arthropod food for the brood, the lack of nest defence against brood predators and the daily routines of breeding and feeding. While there are many similarities to the Yellow-bellied Tit of China and the Coal Tit of the Palearctic differences appear dictated more by climate and predation than by food supply.
van der Aa, P. J. H., R. P. Lorica & J. Komdeur (2006) The hormonal and behavioral response to the presence and activities of humans in three co-roosting flying fox species (Acerodon jubatus, Pteropus vampyrus and P. hypomelanus) in Boracay and Mambukal in the Philippines. Acta Zoologica Sinica 52: 827-837.
Behavioural responses and hormonally measured (glucocorticoid metabolites) responses of three flying fox species including a critically endangered one (Acerodon jubatus) were assessed in two roosts in the Philippines that differed markedly in human caused disturbance. There was no behavioural indication of stress due to human activities near the roost. However, stress hormones were screened only in one of the two roosts, so the jury is still out as to the question of human impact on the well-being of these flying foxes.
Roesler, H., C. D. Siler, R. M. Brown, A. D. Demegillo & M. Gaulke (2006): Gekko ernstkelleri sp. n. - a new gekkonid lizard from Panay Island, Philippines. Salamandra 42 (4): 197-211.
(More details and photo).
Gewers, G., E. Curio & S. H. Hembra (2006): First observations of an advertisement display flight of 'Steere's Honey-buzzard' Pernis (celebensis) steerei on Panay, Philippines. Forktail 22: 163-165
Steere's Honeybuzzard, one of two species of honey-buzzard occurring in the Philippines,  has been observed for the first time on Panay Island while giving a display flight near Mt. Banderahan of the NW Panay Peninsula. The flight serving a nuptial and/ or territorial function is described with illustrations for the first time, and its distinctiveness from that of its  Eurasian counterpart (P. apivorus) highlighted.
Gaulke, M., & Demegillo, A. D. (2006). A forked tail in a Philippine Sail-Fin Lizard (Hydrosaurus pustulatus [Eschscholtz, 1829]). Sauria 69: 4.
2006: A Philippine Sail-fin Lizard Hydrosaurus pustulatus with a forked tail, originating from a broken tail with a regrowing larger end (regeneration) was observed in Panay Island, thus confirming that also agamid lizards can regenerate their tail upon injury (colour pictures, Gaulke & Demegillo 2006, Sauria, 2006: 4).
Hembra, S. S., B. Tacud, E. Geronimo, J. Villanueva, J. Jamangal, E. Sanchez, N. Bagac & E. Curio (2006): Saving Philippine Hornbills on Panay Island.  Re-introduction News, No. 25: 45-46
Progress has been made with the radio telemetry of rehabilitated Tarictic Hornbills that have been released by PESCP at Research Station Sibaliw and that have been found reproducing with wild partners near their site of release. To follow Tarictics over longer distances and, by default, over longer time scales, the equipment needs to be improved.
Silva, A., V. Ketmaier, E. Curio & R. Tiedemann (2006): Co-evolution between avian malaria parasites and their host, the Philippine Bulbul (Hypsipetes philippinus). Abstract  Graduate Student Conference of the German Zoological Society, New Markers and new Theories, Potsdam, 24-26 February, 2006
The analysis of mtDNA of Philippine Bulbuls from NW Panay and Boracay alongside that of their malaria parasites (Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon) revealed distinct genetic isolation of the Bulbul on the two islands as compared to a lower degree of genetic differentiation of its malaria parasites: Also multiple infection by the mosquitoes of the same host birds could be inferred from sequencing mtDNA.
Reiter, J., E. Curio, B. Tacud, H. Urbina & F. Geronimo (2006): Tracking bat-dispersed seeds using fluorescent pigment. Biotropica 38 (1): 64-68.
Fig fruits of two species on Panay Island, Philippines, were marked on their trees, using a fluorescent pigment; this is a dye that becomes visible under ultraviolet light in the dark. Marking the fruits this way allowed to follow their dispersal by fruit bats feeding on them.  Accordingly the remains scattered around the trees under study allowed to assess the 'seed shadow' in the order of a few hectares surrounding the area under the crown, mainly created by one species, the Musky Fruit Bat.
See also general alphabetic publication list, list of publications about study species and selected topics and publication list of Maren Gaulke

Latest awards:

Election of Professor Curio as "Man of the Year for 2007", by the American Biographical Institute (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA).

Election of Professor Curio as "International Educator of the Year" for 2004, by the International Biographical Centre (Cambridge, UK).

Earlier awards

Latest updates in our website:

Download our fourteenth annual project report (2008)

New pages:
Page about the NGO PhilConserve (27 April 2006)
First canopy observation platform in the Philippines (12 July 2005)
Page about hornbill conservation by the PESCP (12 July 2005)

Updates in:
our page about newly discovered taxa and new distributional records (16 December 2007)
Publications by PESCP (permanently updated, see also below)

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Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project  -  Conservation Biology Unit, Ruhr-University Bochum
Last amendment: 28 December 2008