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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Palawan Pangolin

Family : Manidae
Species : Manis culionensis

Head-body length : Up to 90 cm
Tail length : Up to 88 cm
Weight : up to 7.5 kg

The rare and critically endangered Palawan Pangolin, also known as Balintong or Philippine Pangolin, has long been treated as a separate species from the Sunda Pangolin Manis javanica, to which it is closely related. Its taxonomic status has been reaffirmed by modern sequencing studies (Gaubert et al, 2018).

This species only occurs in the southwest of the Philippines, ranging from the long, narrow island of Palawan to neighbouring small island groups and the Calamian Islands to the northeast.

It inhabits primary and secondary lowland forest, where known highest population densities occur, but it has also been recorded in grassland mosaics, agricultural areas, coastal forest and near mangrove (Schoppe et al, 2019 [IUCN]).

As with other pangolins from Southeast Asia, it is solitary and mainly nocturnal in habits, and is adapted to both terrestrial and arboreal activity. By day it hides in earth burrows, among large rocks and in tree holes.

Along with the other seven species of pangolin which occur in Africa, India and Southeast Asia, the Palawan Pangolin is overexploited, mainly for its scales which are used as traditional medicine in countries such as China and Vietnam. Despite national and international regulations outlawing trade in the Palawan Pangolin, significant poaching persists (Sy & Krishnasamy, 2020).

Figs 1 and 2 : These two pangolins were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade and were released into lowland forest habitats. Photos thanks to Emerson Y. Sy.

Fig 3 : Human-impacted forest in Barangay Tagabinet, Palawan, Philippines.

References : M1

Gaubert, P., Antunes, A., Meng, H., Miao, L., Peign, S., Justy, F., ... & Verheyen, E. (2018). The complete phylogeny of pangolins: scaling up resources for the molecular tracing of the most trafficked mammals on earth. Journal of Heredity, 109(4), 347-359.

Schoppe, S., Katsis, L. & Lagrada, L. (2019). Manis culionensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019:

Sy, E. Y & Krishnasamy, K. (2020). Endangered by Trade: The Ongoing Illegal Pangolin Trade in the Philippines. TRAFFIC, Southeast Asia Regional Office, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Fig 1
ゥ  Emerson Y. Sy
Fig 2
ゥ  Emerson Y. Sy
Fig 3  

Fig 3 is from the United States Agency for International Development, and is licensed under the terms of the Public Domain Mark,