Scientists verifying possibility of undiscovered of Hamuiguitan mammals

Mar. 05, 2009

Scientists verifying possibility of undiscovered of Hamuiguitan mammals

DAVAO CITY — Scientists in the Field Museum in Chicago are verifying if two unknown species of mammals captured in Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental are indeed newly discovered species.

According to Jayson Ibanez, research coordinator of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), which organized the research expedition to Mt. Hamiguitan, said the two species were captured two years ago along with a specimen of a hairy-tailed rodent.

In December 2008, after two years of study, the hairy-tailed rodent was declared as newly discovered species found only in Mount Hamiguitan. It is the first mammal to be described from anywhere in Eastern Mindanao and is the first mammal that is thought to be endemic in that area.

It was named as the Hamiguitan batomys or the Hamiguitan hairy-tailed rat with a scientific name Batomys Hamiguitan.

Ibanez said that the other two species is an insect-eating bat and a podogymnura, a kind of rodent who feeds on forest earthworms. These two species were found in the same vicinity where the Hamiguitan botomys was located, an area less than 10 square kilometers in an elevation estimated to be at 950 meters above sea level.

Ibanez said they cannot ascertain as to when the scientific declaration will be released as usually the discovery of a new species is published in a scientific paper. Ibanez said that the Batomys, which was captured in May 2006 was only declared a new species in December 2008.

According to him, the process spanning two years that took the scientist to declare the Hamiguitan Batomys as a new species is faster compared to the process undergone by other newly discovered animal species.

With the discovery of a new species and other potential new mammals, Mt. Hamiguitan could be considered as a biological hotspot or according to Ibanez a center of endinism or an area where new species of animal and plant life still unknown to man abound.

Mt. Hamiguitan has an existing forest cover of 34,000 hectares of which only 6,000 hectares are considered as protected area. The still verdant mountain is located in one of the country’s richest mineral reserves and, in Mt. Hamiguitan alone, about six mining agreements covers an area of about 17,000 hectares of forests.

The PEF along with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Chicago-based Field Museum are working to learn about the biological diversity and conservation status of the region before the habitats are damaged by these developments.

In 2005 to 2006 about four scientific expeditions to Hamiguitan lasting from three weeks to a month were conducted which netted in not just unique mammal species but also potential newly-discovered plant species. (PIA XI)

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