Save The Cloud Rat: A Crucial Part of Our Ecosystem
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Tanay mountaineers’ advocates the conservation and protection of the threatened cloud rats, an animal native to the forests and critical to the ecosystems of the Philippines. A remarkable group of nocturnal rodents, they comprise two genera, Phloeomys and Crateromys, and six species can only be found in the Philippine archipelago. Most of these species are threatened to various degrees based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Tanay, as part of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, is home to the particularly threatened Phloemys pallidus specie. In the upland barangays of the town, in the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape, the Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve and the Tanay Micro-watershed, the animal can still be found. These reserves are a home for biodiversity, in desperate need of protection from deforestation, mining and real estate development, all of which are direct threats to the survival of the cloud rat.
Locally known as paroot, the rats are listed as vulnerable species. If immediate action is not taken to protect and conserve this endemic animal, it could soon be endangered, or worse, extinct.
Our group aims to increase awareness about the vulnerability of this animal, likewise, their importance to their native ecosystem. Some locals are convinced that Cloud rats are invasive, as a result, it is not uncommon to find the cloud rat in local cuisine.
We plan to promote our endemic specie of cloud rat as the emblem of Tanay, to boost ecotourism. We want every tourist to be informed and be part of the project by supporting our advocacy. Our goal is to have the beautiful animal serve to increase tourism to the area, just as the Tarsier has done in the highlands of Bohol.
The cloud rat is also critical to the local ecosystem. As a burrowing animal, it digs complex and deep tunnel systems into the earth. These tunnels naturally increase soil irrigation and drainage. They also aerate the soil, allowing mineral runoff to penetrate deep into the ground, improving the overall quality of the surrounding earth. Thus the cloud rat is a natural partner to the local farmer, and a critical component of our largely agricultural community.
Our group collaborates directly with at-risk locals to empower underemployed individuals, by offering them work as tour guides and educational ambassadors. Through our efforts we hope to not only raise awareness of the critical importance of the cloud rat, but also we hope to create a lasting, positive economic impact on the Tanay community.
Finally, our group intends to spearhead further research into the critical importance of the animal, in partnership with expert scientists and the academy in Tanay. Through studies on behavior, habitat, diet and mating habits, we hope to learn more about just how important the cloud rat is to the forests and reserves surrounding Tanay.
Through such efforts, the cloud rat may increase in population and in the long run, the people and their environment will benefit the most. But urgent steps must be taken to save the cloud rat now, since, unlike other rodents, they only produce one pup per litter, once yearly. Due to this low birthing rate, their population is currently highly threatened.
Our ultimate goal: to stop seeing cloud rat served as dinner in some upland barangays of Tanay.
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