In this episode, we get to meet herpetologist Dr. Arvin C. Diesmos from the Philippine National Museum and talk to him about El Nido’s amphibians and reptiles. During his 4-day exploration of Miniloc Island, Lagen Island, and El Nido Airport together with Environmental Officer Kring Soriano, Dr. Diesmos may have found a new species of skink!
What do you think of El Nido’s biodiversity in terms of herps?
It’s great but in general, this region of Palawan – the northern parts of Palawan – is poorly known, poorly studied. There have been very, very few biological expeditions done here in this region. Our brief fieldwork here is possibly among the first explorations for amphibians and reptiles in this region. But so far, only in the last three or four days of going around, looking for frogs, snakes, and lizards, it’s been very exciting. We’ve found a good number of the species only known from this region. From tiny microhylid frogs [Family Microhylidae] to even possibly a new species of skink. It’s very exciting.
Did we find anything special aside from those?
So far, we possibly have one new species of lizard. It’s not been recorded before in this region. The last record, I believe, is from the 1940s. And apparently they’re quite common in this kind of habitat. It’s very promising.
What advice can you give so that we can further conserve our biodiversity here [in El Nido]?
El Nido is one of the best examples where ecotourism and biodiversity conservation works. And the good thing about what’s happening here in El Nido with the tourism industry is that the local people, the local communities are benefiting. A lot of conservation biologists believe that that’s the key thing – that the local community, the local peoples will benefit from keeping ecosystems intact. And so far, the resorts here have been doing a great job in doing that.
Do you have any parting message for our audience?
The main thing is that this country is still a very beautiful place and we have a rich biodiversity that all of us should enjoy and discover and appreciate. That’s the most important thing. Local communities, local people, and the government should work hand-in-hand to help keep our ecosystems and biodiversity intact. Everyone will benefit anyway.
Lagen Island Resort Environmental Officer
Dr. Arvin C. Diesmos
Herpetologist; Curator, Philippine National Museum
El Nido Resorts