Deer, Mousedeer…

Calamian Deer on Calauit Island 

Wild hoofed animals, or ungulates, are normally associated with vast habitats on continents, like antelopes in the African savannah, or wild sheep in mountain ranges of Asia. However, the island-nation of the Philippines has quite a high diversity of wild ungulates as well, three of which exclusively can be found in the Palawan Faunal Region. Whereas the Palawan Bearded Pig Sus ahoenobarbus is widespread in the archipelago, Calamian Deer Axis calamianensis and Balabac Mousedeer Tragulus nigricans are restricted to few low islands in the North and South of Palawan respectively. Both species are currently listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to ongoing hunting, habitat destruction and degradation, which in combination with their very small ranges puts both species on a high risk of extinction in the wild.

The pointed canines of mousedeer indicate that they blong to an ancient lineage

An important objective of the Palawan Deer Research and Conservation Program is to provide updated information on population and distribution of the two target species to inform the best way forward for their protection. This information is generated through conduct of hunter interviews andpopulation surveys in selected representative sites. The second phase of the program involves also conservation education, but most importantly the establishment of a captive population for Calamian Deer as assurance against imminent danger of extinction in the wild.

The tiny ranges of Calamian Deer (orange) and Balabac Mousedeer (yellow)

Given the very small range of the two species, the persisting (hunting, habitat loss) and emerging climate change threats, the feasibility of (re)introduction to other areas within the Palawan Faunal Region should be assessed.

Natural grassland-woodland mosaic in Kingfisher Park, Busuanga Island