Biologists and researchers have recorded a rare sighting of the venomous pit viper species Tropidolaemus subannulatus in the mountains of El Nido.
Park rangers conducting a biodiversity assessment of the of El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA) reportedly observed the highly venomous snake perched on a tree branch in Barangay Maligaya.
Mildred Suza told Palawan News their team was working on camera traps installed around the area when they encountered the curious.
“Nagco-conduct sila ng assessment at retrieval ng mga camera traps sa gubat na in-install noong February para malaman ang iba’t-ibang wildlife na nandito sa ating kagubatan. Nakita nila itong pit viper na natutulog sa gubat,” Suza said.
She said that based on an initial studies, the snake species can only be found in the forests of northern Palawan, parts of Balabac town, and several areas of Palawan.
“Base doon sa mga published na pag-aaral ay sa northern Palawan at Balabac lang ito makikita. Kapag endemic species kasi ay may particular areas lang na nandoon sila matatagpuan. Medyo hindi kasi napa-prioritize sa mga studies ang pit viper kaya wala tayong data ng population nito,” Suza said.
“Dati may mga nakikita na, may mga sightings na ng pit viper dito. Ngayon nakita mismo nila, ito ‘yong triangle ang ulo na ahas at venomous,” she added.
Suza said they are encouraging herpetologists to join them in the research for reptiles and amphibians.
She also reminded the public to help in the conservation of the flora and fauna, which perform vital roles in balancing the ecosystem.
She said that people have a responsibility to protect and conserve the environment, especially in Palawan being the “last frontier of the Philippines”.
“Sa ating mga kababayan kapag may nakita po tayong mga ahas o anumang wildlife ay ‘wag natin patayin o saktan kasi umaatake lang naman sila kapag na-threathen o naramdaman nila ang panganib. Sila ay parte ng ating biodiversity, ng ating ecosystem. Kaya patuloy ang aming kampanya sa pagpapalaganap ng impormasyon tungkol sa biodiversity conservation and protection, isinasagawa namin ito sa mga paaralan at komunidad para maging katuwang natin sila sa pangangalaga ng kalikasan”, Suza said.
Suza said camera traps were installed in the mountainous areas of El Nido earlier in February this year to assess species population as indicators of conservation effectiveness.
The project is in partnership with Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Protect Wildlife Project in coordination with the Local Government Unit of El Nido.