May 10

In early 2012 a remarkable rediscovery was made on Dinagat Island, a tiny island in the Philippines. Dr Milada Řeháková, a zoologist from the Czech Republic, was conducting a survey of the tarsiers on the island when her programmer husband Václav Řehák spotted a huge hairy grey-brown rat with a conspicuously black-white tail foraging in the canopy. Dr William Oliver of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation said that Milada had called him from the island “full of excitement and frustration” because while her husband had seen it, she had not!

Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat photo

The reason for her great excitement was the possibility that the animal her husband had spotted could be the elusive Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat, a species only known from a single specimen collected in 1975. Cloud rats are the biggest and most spectacular of the murids, endemic only to a few Philippine islands. The Critically Endangered Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat is the least known among them, and having not been seen again since its discovery, despite numerous searches, many feared it may have become extinct.

Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat photo

Fortunately, they both spotted the cloud rat again a week later, and were able to photograph and film this species for the first time ever, allowing this exciting rediscovery to be scientifically confirmed. The ARKive team were of course thrilled when Milada got in touch to tell us about the discovery, and kindly allowed us to include the images and footage in ARKive.

Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat photo

While the rediscovery is great news, the future for the Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat still hangs in the balance as mining and logging pose a serious threat to wildlife on Dinagat, and only one small locally protected area exists on the whole island. Milada tells us that “Effective conservation activities must be undertaken to assure future survival of this, once lost and now rediscovered species. Local people should be proud on this unique species that is not found anywhere else in the world and should be part of its conservation”.

You can read more about the rediscovery here.

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

  • Jack Schlotte (May 17th, 2012 at 1:27 pm):

    Island endemism is such an interesting phenomenon and these rare species must be saved and studied. It would be interesting to collect genetic material and study its genome to fully understand its taxonomic classification. I’ve spent a month at a scientific research station deep in the rain forest of French Guiana and the diversity and beauty of life is really impressive. From photographing lekking birds to mist-netted bats and live-caught rare marsupials and observing free roaming monkeys, Macaws and Motmots, I had the experience of a lifetime. We need to appreciate and preserve the life of this planet for all future generations.