Old World Porcupines are a group of conspicuous, but understudied rodents which are distributed in eleven species over the tropics and subtropics of Africa, Europe and Asia. In the Philippines a single species is recorded, the Palawan Porcupine Hystrix pumila. As the name implies, this animal can only be found on Palawan and some of its satellite islands. It has the smallest range among all the members of the porcupine family.
Palawan Porcupines can be found in primary and secondary forest, mostly in the lowlands, where these habitats are disappearing quickly at a rate of about eight hectares per day. Because they are easy to catch by digging them out from their dens, they have been traditionally important game species in Palawan, and in some communities are the most persecuted wildlife species for food. During the global mammal assessment which was held in Puerto Princesa in 2006, Katala Foundation suggested to consider the species for the inclusion in the IUCN red list; it is since then included in the category ‘Vulnerable’.
Quite recently, wildlife trade experts registered a spike in trade of wild-caught porcupines, fueled by the demand of so-called bezoars, a stone-like aggregation found in the stomach of one out of ten killed porcupines. Bezoars are thought to be an efficient medicine for a number of diseases, including some forms of cancer. The quills of porcupines are also valued for some kind of diseases, including nose bleeding. There is no medical evidence that any of these claims are valid.
The Palawan Porcupine was selected as the flagship species for the Green Heart of Palawan Wildlife Conservation Program. It is the main target species for the camera trapping study, and it will be highlighted in the conservation education efforts.