Today, it is already four years since I saw one of the most elusive animals if the world – the Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat. Also, I want to share with you one amazing news that I got recently from my colleague from the Philippines – a new protected area was established recently on Dinagat island.
But let me tell you the story from the beginning.
Cloud rats are the biggest (body size 30-70 cm) and most spectacular murids of the world, endemic only to a few Philippine Islands. They are nocturnal arboreal animals. The Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat (Crateromys australis) is the least known among them. It has brown-orange colour and a black and white tail that cannot be confused with any other species in the forest.
The Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat is endemic to Dinagat Island and it was first seen and capture in 1975. Since then number of scientific expeditions have searched for this elusive species, but with no success.
I visited Dinagat Island for the first time in 2009 when we were searching for a new (sub)species of tarsier. In 2012, it was my second visit and I decided to focus on this unique cloud rat as well. We spent 10 days searching in the forest and also doing interviews with local.
And …. We were successful. Historically first picture and video record of the species was obtained and the species rediscovered for the scientific community.
This success help to start conservation activities focused on this and other endangered species. In December 2016 czech-filipino expedition focused on mapping and establishing of protected areas on Dinagat Island where no protected areas exist so far. The cloud rat was recorded again after almost five years as well as another rare species, Dinagat Gymnure or Philippine tarsier.
The best news it that just recently I got a message from my Filipino colleague that another protected area was established on Dinagat Island this year. The first was established just shortly after our study was finished.
Dinagat is no longer an island where no protected areas exists. I tis great that the locals started to appreciate the value of nature. Dinagat is very threatened by mining activities and we need to protect it before it is too late