Curious Creatures Of The Philippines
National Geographic Traveller India|March - April 2021
From tiny tarsiers to testy tamaraws, the nation is full of unique and fantastic wildlife
Chloe Berge
In the island forests of the western Pacific, there’s an otherworldly animal known as the Philippine tarsier.

With bat ears, suction cup–like fingers, and giant golden eyes, the creatures would be easy to mistake for extras on a sci-fi movie set. But in fact, tarsiers are primates and distant relatives of humans.

“They really look like little aliens jumping from tree to tree,” says Gab Mejia, a National Geographic Explorer and photographer based in the Philippines.

The Philippines’ 7,600-plus islands are the cradle for a mind-boggling number of diverse species. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, five per cent of the world’s plant species live in the Philippines. And nearly half of the creatures found on these islands exist nowhere else.

“Everywhere you go in the Philippines, you’re going to be surrounded by nature,” Mejia says. “Each island you travel to will have different species.”

Island living tends to encourage speciation—or the divergence of one species into two or more lineages. But this ecological paradise is also under attack, with more than 700 of its native species considered threatened by extinction, as a result of overharvesting, habitat loss, and habitat fragmentation. And the global pandemic may be making things even worse, as conservation organisations have noted upticks in both illegal fishing and poaching of rare plants.

In recent years, home-grown efforts to save many of these creatures and their habitats have proliferated. And when it is done sustainably, biodiversity tourism at national parks can help boost these efforts by channeling money to local conservation groups, ensuring that they have enough support to fund patrols, buy tracts of land, and even breed rare species in captivity.

COVID-19 has put a damper on travel, but once it’s safe, conservation-minded travellers can discover these four national parks in the Philippines that host four of the rarest yet charismatic wildlife found only here.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIAView All

OF MIST & MYTH

WARRIOR QUEENS, LOCH MONSTERS, FAIRIES AND FEUDING CLANS—LEGENDS ABOUND ON THE HEBRIDEAN ISLAND OF SKYE. FOR CENTURIES, COLOURFUL TALES HAVE SHAPED THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO CALL SCOTLAND’S ‘MISTY ISLE’ HOME, AND ARE STILL DEEPLY INTERTWINED WITH ITS SOUL-STIRRING LANDSCAPES

10+ mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021

Under the Sicilian Sun

Roaming through street markets and country vineyards, a writer is smitten by the sweet, salty and greasy headiness of Sicily’s tastes

6 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021

School of BENGALI ROCK

ONCE A FLAMING PHENOMENON, ROCK MUSIC WRITTEN AND SUNG IN THE LANGUAGE BURNS BRIGHT IN KOLKATA’S CREVICES

5 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021

ON THE WATER FRONT

THE PALM-FRINGED WATERWAYS OF KERALA TEEM WITH BIRDLIFE AND THE RHYTHMS OF RICE FARMING. BUT BENEATH THE SURFACE, THE PERIYAR NATIONAL PARK AND THE TRANQUIL VEMBANAD LAKE ARE FINDING A BALANCE BETWEEN THE NEEDS OF AGRICULTURE AND NATURE

10 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021

ONE EGG TO BIND THEM ALL

STRIKINGLY SIMILAR YET DELICIOUSLY DIFFERENT EGG DISHES ARE THE ARTFUL ADHESIVES THAT JOIN SO MUCH OF THE WORLD THROUGH SHARED TASTES AND TRAVELS

9 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021

DUNEDIN DASH

ON THE EASTERN SHORES OF THE SOUTH ISLAND, THE NEW ZEALAND CITY MIXES CULTURE WITH OUTDOOR ADVENTURE—AND A PROUD LOCAL SPIRIT

4 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021

BEHOLD, BEOWULF

A writer’s search for the epic poem’s hero ends at a hamlet in Denmark

9 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021

Beyond the Grapevine

TUCKED UP AGAINST THE GERMAN BORDER IN FRANCE, ALSACE HAS BEEN SHAPED BY CENTURIES OF UPHEAVAL. TODAY, CHEFS AND WINEMAKERS ALIKE ARE CELEBRATING A LEGACY OF CULINARY DIVERSITY

6 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021

Go Goa, Gobble

SPICY PORK CHILLY TO OMELETTE BATHED IN HOT GRAVY—TWO CARNIVORES CANTER AROUND GOA ON A NO-HOLDS-BARRED FOOD TRUCK TRAIL

8 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021

10 Chutneys With Chutzpah

The relishes and sauces served on the side aren’t mere accompaniments to dishes. Try these 10 indian chutneys to jazz up everyday meals with flavour and texture

6 mins read
National Geographic Traveller India
May - June 2021