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The Butaan Project - Conservation Print E-mail

polillomap1.jpgThe dark green patch at center left in this unmanipulated Google Earth image is the last remaining fragment of unlogged lowland dipterocarp forest on Polillo Island, and our main study site for the last 11 years. Less than one square mile in size (220ha) and less than 100m above sea level, the Sibulan Watershed Reserve has lost much of its secondary boundary forest over the last six years through illegal and uncontrolled agricultural activities. 

butaan5.jpgThe butaan and its relatives are imminent danger. They only exists on small islands where habitat loss estimated at over 95% since 1945. Their large size and specialized feeding niche makes them more sensitive to forest fragmentation and degradation than any other frugivore. They are highly sought after for meat and pet trade and can easily be exterminated from isolated patches by hunting.

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  Conservation Concerns

  • Butaan and its relatives:
  • Have the same conservation status as Varanus komodoensis
  • Are the only members of the genus that are not exclusively carnivorous
  • Are the only lizard species that are obligate frugivores
  • Are the only obligate frugivores in the Philippines that are unable to fly
  • Are by far the largest frugivorous vertebrates in the Philippine


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The 1970s study of butaan was conducted in almost 900 square km of primary forest in Bicol. Our study site on Polillo Island contain only 2.8 square km of primary forest, along with about 20 square km of logged forest fragments to the north and east.Polillo Island was almost completely deforested between 1950 and 1990. Today the landscape is primarily coconut plantations, with isolated fragments of degraded forest. Many of these fragments have been destroyed by slash and burn agriculture since the study began.

Butaan on Polillo

  • Survive only in larger forest fragments
  • Are being extirpated from many fragments because of the destruction of key resources
  • Almost always climb trees to get fruit
  • Regularly eat fruit that were ignored at Auffenberg’s sites
  • Regularly shift hillsides according to fruit abundance
  • Have much bigger annual activity areas than those measured in primary forest
  • Show highly clustered distribution in some areas

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About Mampam
Bye Bye Butaan

 butaan1.jpg

Butaan start to visit fruiting trees before they are large enough to swallow the fruits. They make repeat journeys to trees, perhaps to reinforce memory of the position of the tree. If the youngster survives it may continue to use this tree for many decades. Fruiting trees like this are a vital resource for entire populations of butaan. Learn more >


 
Help Mampam
The Butaan Project
The Butaan Project - Monitoring Populations

Camera traps have allowed us to monitor butaan populations on Polillo in a way never attempted for any lizard species before

 

 

 

Read more...
 

 

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