The Philippine Islands are recognized internationally as a hotspot for global biodiversity. While many areas in the Pacific nation have suffered extensive deforestation, the rainforests of Palawan remain impressively intact. These forests are ranked as one of the 15 most endemic ecoregions in the world.
Eighty-five percent of Palawan’s endemics are found on and around Cleopatra’s Needle. The lowland forests included in the proposed reserve are home to the last viable populations of several critically endangered species.
In total, 31 endangered and threatened species inhabit the forests of Cleopatra’s Needle.
• Of 279 bird species found on Palawan, 27 are endemic to the Philippines. Notable species at Cleopatra’s Needle include: Palawan hornbill, Palawan peacock pheasant, Palawan scops owl, Palawan flycatcher.
• Nearly 60 terrestrial mammal species have been recorded on Palawan, and 33% are endemic to the Philippines. Recorded species at Cleopatra’s Needle include: Palawan bearcat, Palawan leopard cat, Palawan flying squirrel.
• Three species of Cycad palms, endemic to Palawan, are found in the forests of Cleopatra’s Needle. A new species of pitcher plant, known only from Cleopatra’s Needle, has been discovered.
• In the forests of Palawan, 24 endemic reptile species can be found, including the seven-foot-long Palawan monitor lizard.
• The forests of Cleopatra’s Needle are home to one of the largest butterflies in the world: the Palawan birdwing, which have an eight inch wingspan.
The southern and eastern hills of Cleopatra’s Needle are home to the last populations of the endangered Palawan horned frog, and nearby creeks contain the largest remaining population of the threatened Philippine flat-headed frog. Evidence suggests that the endangered Palawan toadlet can also be found on the peak of Cleopatra’s Needle, although this has yet to be confirmed.