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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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The mampam website has been running for 25 years and aims to provide full details of projects at no charge. All out of print books and multimedia guides are provided here and full image archives are being developed for each project. This will complete the website's mission.

 

 
Help Mampam
The Butaan Project
Butaan Jump from Incredible Heights!
Butaan jump from incredible heights, land on the ground with a huge crash and walk away uninjured. Jumps to the ground from 30m were recorded by Auffenberg and our spool and line tracking suggests lizards regularly jump from heights of 4-15m when they are unmolested. The amazing jumping power of the butaan is undocumented in any other monitors lizard and may be one more unique aspects of the Putras Biawak group.
 

 

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