EDGE Species Rediscovered
Monday 23 April 2012
The bushy-tailed ‘cloud-runner’ rat (Crateromys australis) has been recorded the first time in forty years by a scientific couple from the Czech Republic. Feared to be extinct until early 2012, this elusive species was captured only once in history, 37 years ago.
During their discovery the couple managed to capture photos and videos of the bushy-tailed rat in its natural habitat. The fascinating footage shows the rat climbing the vegetation in the last area of virgin rainforest on the Philippine island of Philippine island of Dinagat.
Cloud rats are the biggest (body size 30-70 cm) and endemic only to a few Philippine Islands. The Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat is the least known among them. So far, it was known only from one specimen captured in 1975. Since then number of scientific expeditions have searched for this mysterious species, but with no success. It changed in early 2012 when a programmer Václav Řehák accompanying his wife, zoologist Milada Řeháková on a survey of Dinagat Island tarsiers spotted a huge hairy grey-brown rat with hairy and conspicuously black-white tail searching in the canopy.
William Oliver of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation said that Řeháková had called him from the island "full of excitement and frustration" because while her husband had seen it, she had not. Finally, they both saw the cloud rat a week later. The exciting rediscovery was scientifically confirmed and this species was video documented for the first time ever.
Listed as Critically Endangered on the 2011 IUCN Red List, the bushy-tailed cloud rat is consistently threatened by deforestation and mining. Only one small locally protected area exists on the whole island. The scientists, including the couple who rediscovered the species and experts from Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, have carefully prepared further conservation strategies.
Dr. Milada Řeháková explains: “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".
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