The Philippine Pangolin or Balintong

The Philippine Pangolin, also recognized as the Palawan Pangolin or the Philippine scaly anteater, is a distinctive pangolin species indigenous to the Philippines. Scientifically identified as Manis culionensis, it primarily inhabits the Palawan province, an archipelago situated in the southwestern part of the Philippines.

Known locally as “balintong” (alternatively “halintong” or “malintong”), which translates to “one who rolls over” or “one who somersaults” in the Visayan Cuyonon language, this pangolin holds cultural significance. In Cuyonon, it is also referred to as “balekon” or “balikon” and “goling,” all conveying the same meaning. In the Palawan language, it goes by the name “tanggiling” (also spelled “tangiling”), with a similar interpretation.

Pangolins, distinguished by their extraordinary, overlapping scales composed of keratin—the same protein found in human hair and nails—possess a natural armor safeguarding them. Their foraging activities center around a long, adhesive tongue used to extract ants and termites from nests, forming the bulk of their diet. Further, the Philippine Pangolin boasts a prehensile tail facilitating climbing and movement through trees.

Thriving in the forests and grasslands of Palawan, these pangolins exhibit adaptability to both terrestrial and arboreal habitats. Their predominantly nocturnal behavior ensures heightened activity during the night, minimizing exposure to predators and enhancing the efficiency of their foraging endeavors.

Regrettably, the Philippine Pangolin faces a dire conservation status, classified as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Pressing threats include habitat loss due to deforestation, coupled with the perils of illegal hunting and trade.

Pangolins, including the Philippine Pangolin, are coveted for their scales and meat, making them prime targets in the illegal wildlife trade. Despite a lack of scientific evidence supporting their efficacy, pangolin scales are frequently employed in traditional medicine.

Conservation organizations and governments are actively engaged in raising awareness about the importance of preserving these creatures. Notably, the Philippine Pangolin is present in several protected areas, including the Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, Calauit Safari Park, and Puerto Princesa Underground River National Park. It’s noteworthy that the entire Province of Palawan was declared a game refuge and bird sanctuary in 1969 (Proclamations 219 and 530-B), further emphasizing the significance of the region for the conservation of this species.

Philippine Pangolin Video

Cover photo by Gregg Yan

Additional Information

Read more about the Animals Endemic to the Philippines or the Palawan Province. Check out the links below to discover more!


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