Manis culionensis 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Pholidota Manidae

Scientific Name: Manis culionensis
Species Authority: (de Elera, 1915)
Common Name(s):
English Philippine Pangolin
Taxonomic Notes: Manis culionensis was recognized as a distinct species from Manis javanica by Feiler (1998), a determination that was supported by a study of discrete morphological characters by Gaubert and Antunes (2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2d+3d+4d ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-06-26
Assessor(s): Lagrada, L., Schoppe, S. & Challender, D.
Reviewer(s): Duckworth, J.W.
Contributor(s): Martelli, P., Martelli, K., Khan, S. & Oi Ching, O.
This species is listed as Endangered A2d+3d+4d due to suspected populations declines of >50% over a period of 21 years (three generations, generation length estimated at seven years), based on potential levels of exploitation for trade, including national and international trade, and which is exacerbated by subsistence hunting and habitat loss and alteration. However, further research is required into the population status of this species and its threats.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Near Threatened (NT)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

This species is endemic to the Philippines, where it is found in the Palawan faunal region. It is known from mainland Palawan and adjacent islands; Busuanga Island (including the municipalities of Calauit and Coron), Coron Island, Culion Island (Heaney et al. 1998), and Dumaran Island (Widmann et al. 2004). It has also been introduced to Apulit Island (Schlitter 2005) while recent interview surveys by Schoppe in 2013 (unpublished) suggest it also occurs on Balabac Island (S. Schoppe pers. comms. 2013). It is considered to be more abundant in the northern and central parts of Palawan Island and much rarer in the south (Schoppe and Cruz 2009).  This species was described as uncommon by Heaney et al. (1998) and though local informants considered it fairly common, as reported by Esselstyn in 2004, it is subject to heavy hunting.  It is found in primary and secondary lowland forest (Allen 1910, Hoogstraal 1951, Sanborn 1952, Taylor 1934, Heaney et al. 1998), lowland grassland/forest mosaic (Esselstyn et al. 2004), including near human habitation, providing there is suitable vegetative cover i.e. abundant trees and logs (Schoppe and Cruz 2009).

Countries occurrence:
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Upper elevation limit (metres): 2015
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There is very little information available on populations of any species of Asian Pangolin. This species is infrequently observed due, partly to its increasing rarity, but also because of its elusive, solitary and nocturnal habits, and there is a lack of research on population densities or abundance (WCMC et al. 1999, CITES 2000, Hoogstraal 1951, Esselstyn et al. 2004). It is suspected it is more common in northern and central Palawan and relatively rare in the south (Schoppe and Cruz 2009). According to local hunters, populations are declining as a result of hunting both for subsistence use, and increasingly international trade, and which is exacerbated by habitat loss (S. Schoppe pers comms. 2012, Lagrada 2012).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found in lowland primary and secondary forests, grassland/secondary growth mosaics, mixed mosaics of agricultural lands and scrubland adjacent to secondary forests (Esselstyn et al. 2004, Heaney et al. 1998). The upper elevational limit recorded by Lagrada (2012) is 2,015 m asl. As with other pangolins, this species feeds on termites and ants. An affinity of the Philippine Pangolin to fig trees (Ficus spp.) has been reported, probably because these trees provide tree hollows and attract ants, primary prey species (Schoppe and Cruz 2009).
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 7
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted at a local, subsistence level for consumption of its meat, but also for trade at a national level (blood, meat, skins and scales) and internationally (whole animal, meat, scales and skin) (Cruz et al. 2007, Esselstyn et al. 2004, Schoppe and Cruz 2009). It is traded for food and traditional medicine on Palawan and from Palawan to Manila. For example, ethnic Taiwanese people drink its blood in wine and believe the meat has medicinal values (Schoppe and Cruz 2009). While Manis culionensis has been reported in international trade historically, since the last assessment in 2008, there is evidence of a tangible illicit international trade involving this species, both directly to China for use in traditional medicines, and to Sabah (Kudat, Sandakan), East Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysia (Schoppe and Cruz 2009, Pantel and Anak 2010).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is threatened by local hunting for its meat, scales and skin, the latter being used to treat asthma (Esselstyn et al. 2004), and international trade, which involves meat, scales, skins and whole animals (Schoppe and Cruz 2009, Challender et al. in prep). Deforestation and loss of suitable habitat also pose an additional threat. There is evidence that this species can be found for sale in Puerto Princesa, and reports that it is hunted on Palawan, for example, in logged lowland forest in Taytay (Esselstyn et al. 2004). Esselstyn et al. (2004) report it was described by locals as fairly common in c. 2004, though subject to moderately heavy hunting pressure, while Heaney et al. (1998) reported in the late 1990s that it was subject to heavy hunting pressure. It is reported as rare in Southern Palawan, namely Rizal, Quezon and Bataraza (Schoppe and Cruz 2009), Brookes Point (Lagrada 2012), and Balabac (Schoppe unpubl. data).

The scales are also presumably in trade for Traditional Chinese Medicine, as part of the shift to market economies among the Tagbanua and other ethnic groups on Palawan (Lacerna and Widmann 1999, Esselstyn et al. 2004). Evidence from the last seven years also demonstrates there is a tangible illicit international trade involving Manis culionensis, the full extent of which is unknown (Cruz et al. 2007, Schoppe and Cruz 2009, Pantel and Anak 2010, Challender et al. in prep). However, catch per unit effort has decreased based on hunters from Brookes Point (Lagrada 2012), but an increase in the number of confiscations and number of confiscated animals from 1999 to 2012 indicate either an increase in demand and/or trade or improved law enforcement (KFI, 2013). Between 1999 and 2009 only 47 animals were seized according to KFI (2013), but between 2010 and 2012, confiscations involved 369 animals. Currently scales are sold at USD250 (PHP10,000) per kilogram and meat at USD15/kg (PHP600.00). An increase in price and a shift from meat/live to scales was noticeable from 2006-2013 (Schoppe unpubl. data).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed in CITES Appendix II and zero export quotas for wild-caught animals traded for primarily commercial purposes were established in 2000 (CoP11).  It is classified as 'Endangered' under the Philippine Wildlife Act 9147 (2001), which bans the collection of any form of wildlife in the Province of Palawan without a permit. The entirety of this province was declared a game refuge and bird sanctuary in 1969 (Proclamations 219 and 530-B).  However, further research is needed into populations of this species and the magnitude and types of threats it faces.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.6. Artificial/Terrestrial - Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest
suitability: Marginal  
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.3. Sub-national level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:Not Applicable
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.1. Shifting agriculture
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Minority (<50%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Minority (<50%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Unknown ♦ severity: Unknown ⇒ Impact score: Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.3. Other ecosystem modifications
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Minority (<50%) ♦ severity: Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score: Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.1. Species Action/Recovery Plan
2. Conservation Planning -> 2.3. Harvest & Trade Management Plan
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.3. Trade trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Medicine - human & veterinary
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Allen, J.A. 1910. Mammals from Palawan Island, Philippine Islands. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 28: 13-17.

Challender, D.W.S. In prep. The trade and conservation of pangolins in Asia, PhD Thesis. Durrell Institute of Conservation & Ecology (DICE), University of Kent.

CITES. 2000. Prop. 11.13. Manis crassicaudata, Manis pentadactyla, Manis javanica. Transfer from Appendix II to Appendix I (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, United States). Available at:

Cruz, R.M., van den Beukel, D.V., Widmann, I.L., Schoppe, S., and Widmann, P. 2007. Wildlife trade in Southern Palawan, Philippines. Banwa 4(1): 12-26.

Esselstyn, J.A., Widmann, P. and Heaney, L.R. 2004. The mammals of Palawan Island, Philippines. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(3): 271-302.

Feiler, A. 1998. Das Philippinen Schuppentier, Manis culionensis (Mammalia: Manidae). --Zoologische Abhandlungen Staat. Museum Tierkunde Dresden 50: 161-164.

Gaubert, P. and Antunes, A. 2005. Assessing the taxonomic status of the Palawan pangolin Manis culionensis (Pholidota) using discrete morphological characters. Journal of Mammalogy 86: 1068–1074.

Heaney, L.R., Balete, D.S., Dollar, M.L., Alcala, A.C., Dans, A.T.L., Gonzales, P.C., Ingle, N.R., Lepiten, M.V., Oliver, W.L.R., Ong, P.S., Rickart, E.A., Tabaranza Jr., B.R. and Utzurrum, R.C.B. 1998. A synopsis of the mammalian fauna of the Philippine Islands. Fieldiana: Zoology (New Series) 88: 1–61.

Hoogstraal, H. 1951. Philippine Zoological Expedition, 1946-1947. Narrative and itinerary. Fieldiana: Zoology 33: 1-86.

IUCN. 2014. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. Available at: (Accessed: 24 July 2014).

KFI. 2013. Compilation of Palawan wildlife confiscated between 1999 and 2013. Katala Foundation Incorporated, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines.

Lacerna, I.D.D. and Widmann, P. 1999. Biodiversity utilization in a Tagbanua community, southern Palawan, Philippines. In: F. Goltenboth, P. Milan and V. B. Asio (eds), Proceedings of the International Conference on Applied Tropical Ecology, pp. 52–64. Visayas State College of Agriculture, Baybay Leyte, Philippines.

Lagrada, L.S.A. 2012. Population density, distribution and habitat preferences of the Palawan Pangolin (Manis culionensis, de Elera 1915). University of the Philippines Los Banos, Philippines.

Pantel, S. and Anak, N.A. 2010. A preliminary assessment of the pangolin trade in Sabah. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Sanborn, C.C. 1952. Philippine Zoological Expedition 1946-1947. Fieldiana: Zoology 33: 89-158.

Schlitter, D.A. 2005. Order Pholidota. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, pp. 530-531. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Schoppe, S. and Cruz, R. 2009. The Palawan Pangolin Manis culionensis. In Pantel, S. and Yun, C.S. (ed). Proceedings of the Workshop on Trade and Conservation of Pangolins Native to South and Southeast Asia, 30 June - 2 July 2008, Singapore Zoo, Singapore. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Taylor, E.H. 1934. Philippine land mammals. Manila.

Widmann, P. 2004. Wirbeltiergemeinschaften in Rotsteisskakadu-Habitaten in Nord-Palawan. ZGAP Mitteilungen 2: 3-7.

World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1999. Review of significant trade in animal species included in CITES Appendix II. Detailed reviews of 37 species. CITES Animals Committee.

Citation: Lagrada, L., Schoppe, S. & Challender, D. 2014. Manis culionensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T136497A45223365. . Downloaded on 31 May 2016.
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