A Piece of Africa
In Madagascar Movie, Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the Hippo escaped from New York City to Madagascar and to Africa (Also, now into Europe) we also had an escapade of our own into a small island in Northern Palawan, called Calauit. One of the Calamian Group of Islands and a wildlife sanctuary created by the Philippine government.
In August 1976, President Ferdinand Marcos declared Calauit as a game preserve and wildlife sanctuary in response to an appeal by the International Union of Conservation of Nature for Kenya to help African animals be saved from civil strife.
The imported animals include 20 giraffes, dozens of zebra and antelopes. President Marcos ordered the locals to move other places and then he ordered to clear the bamboo forests to make the place similar to the savannahs of Kenya.
CALAUIT ISLAND TODAY
Today, the African animals still roaming around the island and the number of animals is roughly the same as the original number. What adds to the mystery is that it was all done without fanfare and with little public knowledge until the People’s Power revolution toppled the Marcos oligarchy in 1986.
The island is being promoted to tourists, where the animals and their habitation provide a glimpse of Africa in a remarkable tropical setting.
“Calauit Island… Coron is really worth a visit!“ Kris Aquino said via Webstagram. Her Calauit adventure was featured on show, KrisTV last March 9,2012.
All of the existing African wildlife are Philippine-born.
The best time to be in Calauit would be 7am-9am and around 4pm, because the animals are hiding if it’s too hot.
HOW TO GET THERE
So, we flew from Manila to Busuanga and from Busuanga Airport, we took a van to Coron town for an hour (P150.00/person 2012 rate).
When we got to Coron Town, we arranged our Calauit Trip for the following day. We stayed in Luis Bay Travellers Lodge, a newly built home-and-stress-free ambience located on Coron Boulevard. We took all the rest we can get as a preparation for the BIG DAY!
There are two ways on how to get to Calauit Safari Park. First, is a 3-hour travel by land and a 15-minute boat ride to the island. Second, is a 3 to 4-hour boat ride from Coron town straight to the park.
24th of February 2012, we woke-up early, Call Time was 4:00AM, We left Coron by boat at around 4:40AM. We were 11 in the group, including the 3 boatmen. We arrived in the island of Calauit at 8:48AM. First thing we did was to fill-out a registration form, then jump into the truck and we’re good to go inside the Safari.
We were welcomed by the locals, The Calamian Deers (Axis calamianensis), an endangered species of deer found only in the Calamian Group of Islands in Palawan. It’s one of three species of deer native to the Philippines, other being the Philippine Sambar and the Visayan Spotted Deer.
As we go in further, we saw dazzles of zebras resting under the trees. They are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black and white stripes. Their stripes come in different patterns unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and asses, zebras have never been truly domesticated.
Mission: Feed A Giraffe
The giraffe is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant. Its specific name refers to its camel-like face and patches of color on a light background, which bear a vague resemblance to a leopard’s spots. It is also noted for its extremely long neck and legs and prominent horns. It stands 5–6 m (16–20 ft) tall and has an average weight of 1,200 kg (2,600 lb) for males and 830 kg (1,800 lb) for females.
There are nine subspecies, which differ in size, coloration, pattern, and range. The Giraffes in Calauit belongs to the Somali (Reticulated). The Somali Giraffe, or more commonly known as Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), is a subspecies of giraffe native to Somalia, northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia.
Calauit Island is one of the most unique places in the Philippines, who would have thought you can find a piece of Africa in the Philippines?