This Philippine butterfly had a mistaken identity for years, until its ‘rediscovery’

  • A pair of scientists have discovered a new subspecies of butterfly whose only known habitat is at the peak of a potentially active volcano in the central Philippines.
  • Specimens of the new subspecies, Appias phoebe nuydai, were first collected in 2012 by researcher Jade Badon, who initially misidentified them as belonging to a different phoebe subspecies.
  • The researcher realized in 2019 that the species was different after comparing its forewings to existing cataloged species.
  • Climate change is the biggest possible threat to high-elevation butterflies, with researchers calling for more studies into how the butterflies are adapting.

READ MORE: This Philippine butterfly had a mistaken identity for years, until its ‘rediscovery’ (mongabay.com)

In Philippines’ Palawan, top cop linked to assault on environmental officer

  • Police on the Philippine island of Palawan reportedly assaulted and arrested government environmental officials trying to serve a vacate notice to settlers occupying a mangrove area.
  • Environmental lawyers and conservation officials have condemned the incident, led by Marion Balonglong, the chief of police of Puerto Princesa, the provincial capital, calling it “yet another blow to our environmental enforcement.”
  • Cutting down mangroves is prohibited under Philippine laws, and in recent years environmental defenders have come under deadly attacks from suspected illegal loggers; this incident marks the first time they’ve been confronted by the police.
  • Suspected illegal loggers killed a village patrol officer in 2017, and a forest ranger in 2019; in May this year, suspected loggers shot and wounded a ranger in a national park.

READ MORE: In Philippines’ Palawan, top cop linked to assault on environmental officer (mongabay.com)

Pandemic lockdown gives Philippine province time to rethink planned split-up

  • The coronavirus pandemic has halted a planned vote on whether to split up the biodiverse province of Palawan into three smaller ones.
  • Those in support of the proposal say breaking up the country’s biggest province into more manageable constituencies will allow officials to better address poverty and development issues.
  • But critics say it will exacerbate bureaucratic bloat, allow the ruling elites to grab more power, and harm both the management of natural resources and welfare of indigenous peoples.
  • They say the argument that the province is too big to properly manage is flawed, given how officials have largely been able to execute pandemic responses, and that the real issue is political will.

READ MORE: Pandemic lockdown gives Philippine province time to rethink planned split-up (mongabay.com)

No tourism income, but this Philippine community still guards its environment

  • Communities in the biodiversity haven of Palawan in the Philippines earn millions in tourism-related services annually, but the industry has been paralyzed due to a lockdown aimed at suppressing the spread of COVID-19.
  • The lockdown, in effect since March 17, has forced close tourist sites in the province, which has affected thousands of families dependent on tourism.
  • Despite this, these communities continue to look after their protected areas, making sure that illegal logging and fishing activities do not proliferate during the lockdown period.
  • Owing to proper handling of finances, these community organizations can sustain themselves and the areas they look after for a year, but interventions and support are necessary to keep these areas protected in the long run.

READ MORE: No tourism income, but this Philippine community still guards its environment (mongabay.com)

Plastic trash threatens dugong survival in Palawan

PALAWAN, Philippines – The seas surrounding the Calamianes Island Group (CIG), the northernmost part of this province, are considered one of the last strongholds in the country of the dugong (Dugong dugon). However, it is not often locals see a dugong.

This is because the dugongs are so rare that they are classified as critically endangered in the Philippines. Their very small population can be seen, particularly off Busuanga town’s Calawit Island.

So how can the conservation community encourage locals to protect this vulnerable marine mammal that is facing possible extinction?

Their solution: launch a dugong mascot.

READ MORE: Plastic trash threatens dugong survival in Palawan (rappler.com)

Hope, love prevail in conserving endangered Philippine cockatoo

PALAWAN, Philippines — Veronica Marcelo, 51, wakes up early in the morning to go to the coconut-fringed shoreline facing the Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary – the stronghold of the critically endangered Philippine cockatoo, locally known as the katala.

She has been doing this for nearly 17 years now, bringing with her a logbook and a pen to monitor the number of katala moving off the island to forage for food.

Marcelo serves as a volunteer for Sagip Katala Movement (SKM), a community-based organization formed under the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program (PCCP). SKM is mostly composed of women who devote time to look after the threatened bird species that visits the coastal barangay of Panacan every day.

READ MORE: Hope, love prevail in conserving endangered Philippine cockatoo (rappler.com)