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Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located about 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. The National Park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the northern coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. It is also known asSt. Paul's Subterranean River National Park, or St. Paul Underground River. The entrance to the Subterranean River is located a short hike from little town of Sabang.

Geography

The park features a limestone karst mountain landscape with an 8.2 kilometer navigable underground river. A distinguishing feature of the river is that it winds through a cave before flowing directly into the South China Sea. It includes major formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and several large chambers. The lower portion of the river is subject to tidal influences. Until the 2007 discovery of an underground river in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Puerto Princesa's underground river is reputed to be the world's longest.

The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full mountain-to-the-sea ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.

It was inscribed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on December 4, 1999.

Flora

The Park has an amazing range of forest formations representing eight (8) of the thirteen (13) forest types found in tropical Asia, namely forest over ultramafic soils, forest over limestone soils, montane forest, freshwater swamp forest, lowland evergreen tropical rainforest, riverine forest, beach forest, and mangrove forest. Researchers have been able to identify more than 800 plant species from 300 genera and 100 families. These include at least 295 trees dominated by the dipterocarp type of species. In the lowland forest, large trees such as the Dao (Dracontomelon dao), Ipil (Instia bijuga), Dita (Alstonia scholaris), Amugis (Koordersiodendrum pinnatum), and Apitong (Dipterocarpus gracilis) are common. Beach forest species include Bitaog (Calophyllum inophyllum), Pongamia pinnata, and Erynthia orientalis. Other notable plant species include Almaciga (Agathis philippinensis), Kamagong (Diospyros pulganensis) Pandan (Pandanus sp.) Anibong, and Rattan ('Calamus sp.)

Fauna

Birds comprise the largest group of vertebrates found in the Park. Of the 252 bird species known to occur in Palawan, a total of 165 species of birds was recorded in the park from. This represents 67% of the total birds and all of the 15 endemic bird species of Palawan. Notable species seen in the park are the Blue-napped parrot (Tanygnathus lucionensis), Tabon scrub fowl (Megapodius cumunigii), Hill myna (Gracula religiosa), Palawan hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei), White breasted sea eagle (Halitutus leucogates ). There are also some 30 mammal species that have been recorded in the Park (Madulid, 1998). Most often observed in the forest canopy and along the shoreline feeding during low tide is the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), incidentally the only primate found in the area. Other prominent mammal species include the Park are the Bearded pig (Sus barbatus), Bearcat (Arctictis binturong), Palawan stink badger (Mydaus marchei) and the Palawan porcupine (Hystrix pumilus) 19 species of reptiles have been identified in the Park, 8 of which are endemic (Madulid, 1998). Common species in the area include large predators like the Common reticulated python (Phython reticulatus), the Monitor lizard (Varanus salvator) and the green crested lizard (Bronchocoela cristatella). Recorded amphibian fauna include 10 species. The Philippine woodland frog (Rana acanthi) is the most dominant and frequently encountered. One species, Barbourula busuangensis, endemic to Palawan was also observed in the area. Notable are the 9 species of bats, 2 species of swiftlets and whip spider (Stygophrynus sp.) found in the cave, and the Sea cow (Dugong dugon) and the Hawksbill sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) the feed in the coastal area of the Park.

References

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