Leyte’s Kuapnit Balinsasayao National Park: Home to Endangered Species

Baybay is one of the largest cities in the region spanning a land area of over 45,000 hectares. Known to be the home of Mount Pangasugan, dubbed as “the last remaining frontier in Eastern Visayas” because of its remarkable biodiversity, the city is also home to another protected area, the Kuapnit Balinsasayao National Park.

Map of Kuapnit Balinsasayao National Park from Google Maps

Yes, you read it right—Baybay is home to a national park. This is administered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Biodiversity Management Bureau under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.

Philippine Spotted Deer | Photo courtesy of Ligaya Caballes

National Parks

National parks refer to forest reservations essentially of natural wilderness character which have been withdrawn from settlement, occupancy or any form of exploitation except in conformity with approved management plan and set aside as such exclusively to conserve the area or preserve the scenery, the natural and historic objects, wild animals and plants therein and to provide enjoyment of these features in such areas.

It’s no surprise why it’s not known to many because it’s not easily accessible by tourists due to its challenging terrain. Trekking here is definitely not for the faint of heart. The park is shared by the town of Abuyog and Baybay City that covers a total area of 364 hectares nestled deep within the mountainous forests of the island, some 15 kilometers east of Baybay City via the Maharlika Highway. It was declared a national park in 1937 by virtue of Proclamation No. 142.

Yellow-Breasted Tailorbird | Photo courtesy of Con Foley

Kuapnit Balinsasayao National Park lies at the southern fringe of the Anonang-Lobi Mountain Range, popularly known as the Leyte Cordillera that runs north to south through western Leyte. This cordillera consists the highest peaks in Leyte Island including Mount Burauen Graben, Mount Camaiyak and Mount Lobi, the highest at 1,346 m. Mount Maganjan at 754 m. is the most prominent peak nearest to the park.

A view of Leyte Cordillera, as seen from Lintaon Peak. | Photo courtesy of Bernard Supetran

Key biodiversity

This tropical rainforest is teeming with an incredible wildlife! It is home to three (3) bird species that can only be found in the islands Leyte, Samar and Bohol—the Samar Hornbill, Visayan Broadbill, and Yellow-Breasted Tailorbird. Non-bird species such as the critically-endangered Philippine Spotted Deer, Visayan Warty Pig and Tarsier are also found here.

The warty pigs or locally known as baboy ilahas originated and are endemic in the Visayan Region of the Philippines. But sadly, the Visayan warty pig is rapidly declining in numbers due to destruction of forests or its habitat causing food shortage for their species. Another main reason is due to excessive hunting of Filipino natives for food and resources. | Photo courtesy of Mike Peel

The lush Kuapnit Balinsasayao National Park is definitely a national treasure, considering that it’s home to endangered species like the Visayan Warty Pig, commonly known as Baboy Ihalas and even tarsiers—which we all thought that it can only be found in Bohol.

The Visayan Broadbill. | Photo courtesy of Yan Muzika

May all the Leyteños have the commitment to maintain the natural habitat of the park’s fascinating flora and fauna. We don’t want the endangered species living in this area be extinct.

Reference: “Region 8 – Protected Areas”. DENR Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau. Retrieved 14 June 2012.

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