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Location Philippines, Region IX
Central coordinates 120o 7.00' East  5o 15.00' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 17,700 ha
Altitude 0 - 558m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Haribon Foundation



Site description This IBA includes the island of Tawi-tawi (48,400 ha), the second largest in the Sulu archipelago, and many small associated islands including Tandungan, Tandubatu, Dundangan and Baliungan in the Tandubas group. Tawi-tawi is largely undeveloped, with some primary forest and large areas of secondary forest inland, as well as forested islets and rich reefs offshore, although much of the forest around the coastal fringe has been converted to coconut plantations. The largest remaining areas of forest on Tawi-tawi are on the central ridge, which rises to just over 500m, and in the eastern half of the island. Forest has been estimated to cover 250-350 km2 of the island in total, but recent observations (including from the air) suggest that most of it has been selectively logged and that little primary forest remains. There are also small remnants of closed-canopy forest close to Batu-Batu village, mostly on rocky outcrops or inaccessible areas, some logged forest extending across the island from Batu-Batu around Tarawaken, and in the Balimbing, Buan and Tataan areas. The eastern islands of Tandungan, Tandubatu, Dundangan and Baliungan are rather hilly and were until recently well forested, but the fringing mangroves have now mostly been cleared for firewood and large areas of forest inland have been logged. However, some areas of unlogged forest remain, at least on the higher parts of Baliungan. Some of the other small islands south of Tawi-tawi have areas of secondary forest or scrub, but many of them are extensively cultivated and none of them appear to have significant areas of primary forest. The main land-uses in this IBA are subsistence agriculture and the extraction of forest products. Tawi-tawi and its associated islands are of great scenic beauty, and have considerable potential for tourism, but this is not possible at present because of political instability.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Philippine Cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia resident  2001  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Sulu Bleeding-heart Gallicolumba menagei resident  2001  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Tawitawi Brown-dove Phapitreron cinereiceps resident  2001  present  A1  Endangered 
Grey Imperial-pigeon Ducula pickeringii resident  2001  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Sulu Racquet-tail Prioniturus verticalis resident  2001  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Rufous-lored Kingfisher Todiramphus winchelli resident  2001  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Sulu Hornbill Anthracoceros montani resident  2001  present  A1  Critically Endangered 
Sulu Pygmy Woodpecker Picoides ramsayi resident  2001  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Celestial Monarch Hypothymis coelestis resident  2001  present  A1  Vulnerable 

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   -
Forest   -

Other biodiversity A small mammal that is endemic to Tawi-tawi, Rattus tawitawiensis, is listed as vulnerable by IUCN. Dugong Dugong dugon are occasionally recorded on Tawi-tawi, and it is a nesting area for Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas, Hawkesbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbricata and Leatherback Turtle Dermochelys coriacea.

Protection status Not officially protected.

Further web sources of information 

Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This site has been identified as an AZE due to it containing a Critically Endangered or Endangered species with a limited range.

References Allen (1998a,b); Diesmos and Pedregosa (1995); Dutson et al. (1996); Lambert (1993).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tawi-tawi Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/08/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife