Video footage provides incredibly rare images of the Critically Endangered Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat and Endangered Dinagat Gymnure in their natural habitat within the Philippine island of Dinagat.
Known for its lush rainforests, Dinagat Island is home to a variety of rare species found nowhere else in the world. The dense foliage provides excellent hiding spots for these secretive creatures– sometimes so well, that a species could be presumed extinct.
This was the case for the Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat, an endemic rodent that was first discovered between 1974 and 1975. Little is known about this cloud rat, as it has been scientifically described from only a single specimen, and after its initial discovery the species went unseen for decades. Thought to no longer exist in the wild, it was feared to be extinct until its incredible rediscovery in 2012. Researchers Milada Řeháková and Václav Řehák observed and recorded the Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat for the first time in nearly 40 years, and this sighting helped renew hope for Dinagat’s threatened species and boosted conservation efforts on the island.
Video of Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat recorded in 2012. Courtesy of Milada Řeháková and Václav Řehák.
In December 2016, an expedition led by Green Mindanao and supported by Rainforest Trust was conducted to map land for potential protected areas on the island. During this trip, the enigmatic Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat was again caught on camera by Řeháková.
“I am very happy that our Philippine partners came up with the idea of establishing protected areas on Dinagat Island and that I can be part of it,” said Řeháková.
“The Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat is a unique species that is not found anywhere else on the planet and deserves protection.”
Video of Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat recorded in 2016. Courtesy of Milada Řeháková.
Another of Dinagat Island’s endangered and elusive species, the Dinagat Gymnure (also known as the Dinagat Moonrat), was recorded during this same expedition, again by Řeháková. This was the first time the species had been photographed and video-recorded in the wild. Endemic to the Philippines, the Dinagat Gymnure is restricted to three islands where deforestation has greatly impacted the shrew-like mammal’s habitat, making the creation of new protected areas critical to its survival.
Video of Dinagat Gymnure recorded in 2016. Courtesy of Milada Řeháková.
Currently, Rainforest Trust and local partner Green Mindanao are working to create four new protected areas in Dinagat Island that will secure essential forest and coastal habitat for threatened species such as the Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat and Dinagat Gymnure, while establishing the first designated conservation protection on this unique island.
Header photo: Image of the Critically Endangered Dinagat Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat caught on camera. Courtesy of Milada Řeháková.