Calamian Deer

Calamian Deer inhabit mostly dry woodland and forest-grassland mosaics of the Calamian island group. These ecosystems did not receive a lot of conservation attention in Palawan, and lowlands are by default the least protected areas in the province. Particularly natural grassland ecosystems have not yet been recognized as worthy of protection in Palawan, and the deer could serve as flagship species for these lowland vegetation formations, including their associated flora and fauna.

The stronghold for the species was, and remains to be, Calauit Island which was populated with a number of African ungulates during the 1970s. As an unintended side effect of the protection of the (globally not threatened) African wildlife, also Calamian Deer and other native species thrived. However, in recent years the original human population returned to Calauit, and with them many others with no roots on the island. Habitat conversion and wildlife poaching increased, and the populations of deer declined dramatically. The situation on Busuanga and Culion, which are also within the natural range of the species, is similarly dire as shown by population and occupancy surveys conducted by Katala Foundation.

Fossils indicate that Calamian Deer once roamed the main island of Palawan and got extinct from there relatively recently, at the end of the last ice age. An eco-ethological study of the Calamian Deer in Calauit by Katala Foundation shed some light on the question if the more recent and man-made forest-grassland mosaics in Palawan mainland or satellite islands are once more suitable for the species.

A precondition of bringing back this deer to Palawan is the establishment of a conservation-breeding group to build up the population necessary for reintroduction. Katala Foundation therefore established a breeding facility for this species in the Katala Institute in Narra, Palawan.