The Philippines is a gem known for more than just its treasures. Having struggled historically through colonial rule, fascism, corruption and scandals, the Philippines is, politically speaking, deserving of a vacation. Luckily enough, the same country in question is home to some of the most unparalleled earthly beauties known to humankind. That, and some strange wildlife. Parts of the Philippines have been called the “final frontier” for their untapped ecological riches and promise – and, again, their weird animals. Here are some of the strangest ones worth mentioning.
This tiny, bug-eyed monkey – the mammal deemed to have the biggest eyes in proportion to its body size – is odd at first sight. Adorable, but odd. The infant tarsier is born with hair and its eyes wide open; that, and females have multiple sets of breasts, with only one functional pair. They are able to hang from trees shortly after birth, and can leap from tree to tree soon after. Populations of the tarsier are found sparingly throughout the Philippines, and better yet – they share one of their homes with Bohol Island’s Chocolate Hills. These, rolling hills that turn into a rich brown color in the tropical rain, seem like a fitting residence for these cute oddities.
While not endemic to the Philippines, it’s certainly an oddity amongst the elephants and cows in the room. What exactly is it? Its closest relative is the sea cow, but it bears more resemblance to an English bulldog; it’s sort of like a manatee, but somehow seems friendlier. The reason why one might find difficulty in pinning down its exact resemblance is because we killed off almost the entire Dugongidae family in the 18th century for its meat and oil, with the Dugong surviving as its only living member. Perhaps it persevered with its gentle, herbivorous nature and its unassuming, oafish appearance. But the dugong itself is at risk of extinction by the hands of net-bearing fishermen and destroyers of their natural habitat. Lest we want another extinction on our conscience, the human race must rush to protect this strange, lovable animal.
Philippine Flying Lemur, or “Colugo”
Strong bite, tight grip, small ears, big eyes. Monster. But eh, not really. The Philippine flying lemur, also known as the colugo, was mistaken in Philippine folklore for being a supernatural creature that feasted on blood and flesh; but in reality, the colugo is a tree-hugging folivore that feeds on fruits, flowers, and leaves. It is a nocturnal animal that is slow and clumsy on foot, and therefore prefers to glide from tree to tree. It has become vulnerable to deforestation but it would like to stay on this earth – just maybe not on the ground.
Palawan Horned Frog
This little guy may look like a thug, but he really doesn’t have much fight in him. His hops don’t carry him far off the ground. His dull brown color gives him the camouflage he needs to outstay predators, since he probably wouldn’t be able to outrun them, anyway. He’s a softie that likes to breed in mountain streams instead of the cold, hard ground. He lives in what is arguably one of the most gorgeous, untapped ecological havens left in the world: Palawan, an island on the western shores of the Philippines. Nickelodeon has certainly caught wind of this and is attempting to erect an undersea theme park – bad news for the Palawan horned frog’s marine compatriots.
“Dulungan”, or the Walden Hornbill
This beauty is a bird of a thousand names: the dulungan (as natives call it), the Visayan horn bill (after the region it is endemic to), or the Walden horn bill (named after the Scottish ornithologist Viscount Walden). Unfortunately horn bills do not reproduce at the rapid pace necessary to equalize the impact of deforestation and hunting; the dulungan has been declared extinct in the Philippine island of Negros, and its numbers continue to dwindle. It is a free spirit that loves to make loud noises in small numbers. It lives amongst fruit-bearing trees in the lush, green rainforests of the tropics, greeting each member of its disappearing breed with a piece of fruit in its beak.
Comparatively speaking, too – travel is dirt cheap once you get to the Philippines. All you have to do is save up for that $700 ticket!