To support the conservation of both the Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) and its productive mountain habitats, WWF-Philippines partnered with the Far Eastern University (FEU), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Western Mindoro Integrated Conservation Program (WMICP), Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI), local government of Occidental Mindoro, plus the indigenous Tawbuid Batangan Mangyan inhabitants of Mts. Iglit-Baco for an ambitious goal – to double wild Tamaraw numbers from 300 to 600 by 2020.
An estimated 10,000 Tamaraw once roamed the island of Mindoro in the 1900s. However, a crippling outbreak of Rinderpest in the 1930s, widespread land clearing, plus trophy hunting drove the species to the brink of extinction. By 1969, the population plummeted to less than 100 heads, all holding out atop the grassy slopes and forest patches of Mts. Iglit, Baco, Aruyan, Calavite and Halcon. Owing largely to local government conservation efforts, the population has recovered to 345 heads as of April 2013 and continues to rise yearly.
Iglit-Baco Mountain Range, Occidental Mindoro
The world's Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) population dropped by 97% within the last century. With only a few hundred remaining, swift action is needed to save these wild dwarf buffalo from extinction.
In 2012, WWF-Philippines partnered with the Far Eastern University and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a programme called Tams-2, which seeks to double fragmented and little studied Tamaraw populations from 300 to 600 by 2020. From an initial count of 153 in 2001, the latest visual count of this endemic species was 345 in 2013.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified this Philippine dwarf buffalo as critically endangered – the highest risk rating for any plant or animal species. The Tamaraw is endemic to the Philippines, foraging up and down Mts. Iglit, Baco, Aruyan, Halcon and Calavite in Mindoro. The Tamaraw can be differentiated from the Carabao (Bubalus bubalis carabanensis) through its distinctive V-shaped horns, a shorter tail, and a shaggy coat of chocolate to ebony fur. Adults stand four feet tall and weigh an average of 300 kilograms.
WWF-Philippines and FEU's Western Mindoro Integrated Conservation programme ties in Tamaraw research and improved park management initiatives with existing efforts to conserve Apo Reef and the rich marine habitats off the coast of Sablayan. Behavioural studies are underway with the deployment of camera traps in the Iglit-Baco mountain range, a precursor to future deployments in other sites to monitor and validate the existence of remnant Tamaraw populations beyond the Iglit-Baco mountain range.