Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park / Cleopatra's Needle

Country/territory: Philippines

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2 (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 126,933 ha

Haribon Foundation

Site description
St Paul's Subterranean River National Park is on west coast of Palawan, c.81 km north of Puerto Princesa. It is bounded to the north by St Paul Bay, and to the south by Babuyan River. The landforms in the park are associated with rocky mountains (of marble AND LIMESTONE) running from north to south. The main feature is an 8.2 km underground river, and there are also spectacular limestone formations. Note that the boundaries of the IBA have been extended beyond those of the park, to include an adjacent area of good forest around Mt Cleopatra, where there have been recent records of threatened and restricted-range birds. Two-thirds of the area is covered by lush tropical rainforest from the shoreline to the highest peak, and one-third is thinly vegetated karst limestone. The vegetation types include lowland forest (often with a 35 m canopy), coastal forest and karst forest. There is a small human population in the park, whose livelihoods are fishing and farming.

Key biodiversity
This National Park is currently a popular destination for visiting bird-watchers, and most of the threatened and restricted-range birds of the Palawan Endemic Bird Area have been recorded there. Several threatened species are regularly seen in the extensive lowland forests there, and the populations of Palawan Peacock-pheasant and Philippine Cockatoo in the park are particularly important.

Non-bird biodiversity: The area is known to support large populations of cave roosting bats, plus the endemic threatened Palawan flying fox Acerodon leucotis, Oriental small-clawed otter Amblonyx cinereus, Palawan stink-badger Mydaus marchei, binturong Arctictis binturong, Palawan flying squirrel Hylopetes nigripes, Palawan montane tree squirrel Sundasciurus rabori and Palawan porcupine Hystrix pumila. The underground river supports plant species, such as Dracontemelon dao, Pometia primata and Diospyrus sp.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park / Cleopatra's Needle. Downloaded from on 06/02/2023.