The Philippines, a vast country of variant ecosystems
has more than the usual rainforests, more than the usual montane
forests, more than the usual mangrove swamps, marshes, grasslands,
and coral reefs among many others. They embody a staggering collection
of wildlife habitats and diversity. They often get overlooked,
considering that many of these species are unique to the archipelago.
More than 190 reserves, protected landscapes and seascapes, and
natural parks, are designed to protect the lifestyles of the indigenous
people who reside in these environments.
The most popular species wo watch for are the
famous "Butandings" aptly called the "gentle giants"
of Donsol, Sosogon, an inordinately large number of whale sharks
that make an appearance every year. In 1998, more than 90 whale
sharks gathered at the mouth of Donsol river. Locals insist that
they have historically convenged there. Hundreds of marine scientists,
tourists and enthusiasts arrive in Donsol each season to swim
and snorkel with these remarkable creatures. Go wild over whales
as whale-shark watching season begins on February 1 and runs until
The technique for swimming with the shale sharks
is quite simple, peaceful and awe-inspiring. First, hire a boat
and a spotter, find a shark, bring your snorkeling gear and slip
into water alongside these magnificent creatures. You will only
be needing your snorkel since scuba-diving and flash photography
are prohibited, as the latter sends them for cover immediately.
Holding on to the animals is also neither encouraged, nor recommended.
Go wild over wildlife with more sightings of
other varied animal life in the country and add excitement to
trips and excursions outdoors. The tamaraw, the country's largest
indigenous animal, is confined to the island of Mindoro and fewer
then 350 are thought to remain. Other animals you should not miss
are endangered Philippine crocodile and the tiny Philippine tarsier,
one of the country's most endearing mascots, with its large eyes
and long, skinny fingers. The national bird and symbol, the Philippine
eagle, is a magnificent predator that feed on small monkeys, but
unfortunately, an endangered species as well. A great variety
of colorful lizards and birds, large and small, can also be spotted
all over the archipelago.