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Vanishing Species Are Still Thriving in Masungi Georeserve

Masungi Georeserve is an award-winning geotourism site.
IMAGE MASUNGI GEORESERVE
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Masungi Georeserve is an award-winning geotourism site that began as a simple reforestation project two decades ago. The project involved restoring 400 hectares of denuded forests. 

A Philippine Catmon and a Philippine Carpenter Bee in Masungi Georeserve

Photo by Masungi Georeserve.

The georeserve is run and protected by sisters Ann and Billie Dumaliang, who are Masungi Georeserve’s project manager and trustee, respectively. Back in February 2021, the Dumaliang sisters were named among the five winners of Vanity Fair’s 2021 Changing Your Mind Travel Awards. Ann is also a National Geographic Explorer and a Regional Finalist for Young Champions of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Masungi Was A Barren Wasteland

No trees, no animals, and no flowers. That was what the Dumaliang family saw in Masungi before Ben Dumaliang, father of Ann and Billie, stepped in. 

It was Ben who started the massive and unprecedented reforestation and restoration project in the Masungi Georeserve. He had no idea his work would reap honors and awards two decades later. 

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But most important, the endangered animals have returned. 

After 20 Years: Masungi's Reforestation Success 

Photo by FACEBOOK/MASUNGI GEORESERVE.

The Return of Vanishing Species

Masungi Georeserve is proving to be a bastion for disappearing wildlife in Luzon.

Sightings of the super-elusive North Luzon cloud rat have been reported in Masungi, but the family has yet to snap a photo of the endangered rodent. 

North Luzon Cloud Rat

Photo by SHUTTERSTOCK.
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Indigo-banded Philippine Kingfishers have also found a home in Masungi. Although not critically endangered, the bird is very elusive and difficult to photograph. 

Indigo-banded Philippine Kingfishers

Photo by Masungi Georeserve.
Photo by Masungi Georeserve.

An endemic species of microsnail the size of a grain of rice was also documented in the georeserve. It was discovered in October 2020 by a team of Filipino scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. They measured the microsnail and reported it was only 4.4 to 5.0 millimeters wide. They named the newly discovered species Masungi microsnail, according to the National Geographic

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A Microsnail the Size of a Rice Grain

Photo by Masungi Georeserve.

Prehistoric plants older than dinosaurs also make a last stand in the georeserve. Cycas riuminiana—an endemic species found in Luzon—grows within Masungi. These plants flourished during the Jurassic period, which was more than 130 million years ago, making them some of the most ancient plants that live today.

Older Than Dinosaurs: Cycas riuminiana

Photo by Masungi Georeserve.
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And then there’s the extremely rare jade vine. 

“The jade vine is already very rare,” Ann tells National Geographic

“It’s so unique that we find it on the back of our five-peso coin! Then comes a purple variety that people hardly know about, and we have them growing in exuberant ways. That was definitely an ‘aha!’ moment that demonstrated how unique the life forms here are.”

The Extremely Rare Purple Jade Vine

Photo by Masungi Georeserve.

A Philippine Long-Tailed Macaque

 

Photo by Masungi Georeserve.
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The Philippine hawk-eagle is listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List. There are an estimated 400 individuals left in the wild. But in the protected Masungi, it finds sanctuary. 

The Philippine Hawk-Eagle

Photo by Masungi Georeserve.


Masungi Georeserve is protected under Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, which safeguards the reserve from any form of human exploitation.

Throughout its existence, the reserve has ensured the survival of over 400 species of flora and fauna, protected 60-million-year-old limestone formations, planted 40,000 indigenous trees, and employed over 100 locals who are now helping protect this piece of paradise. 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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