End of the Road for Tamaraw

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Tamaraw is Buffalo specie endemic to the Philippines. It looks like a Philippine Carabao but smaller and shorter at about 3 feet in height. It has a V-shaped horn while the Carabao has a C-shaped and observed to be a wild and fierce animal. When confronted and cornered in its habitat, it will fight back and attack its intruder.

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Tamaraw is a solitary animal. They move in small groups but mostly in pairs into the mountains and lowlands for grazing. The Tamaraw is more agile than the Carabao and because of its smaller size, it can move faster into the jungles and trails. Tamaraws take a lot of water and would prefer to stay near rivers and creeks for their water needs. Like the endangered Philippine Eagle, Tamaraw give birth to just one offspring with an afterbirth interval of 2 years. Their lifespan is about 25 years.

Population & Habitat

About a hundred years ago the Tamaraw population in the Island of Mindoro was estimated to be over 10,000 heads. In the early 1930s, a major disease outbreak happened among the cattle population in the area which eventually spread to the Tamaraw population in the Islands. It was also believed that one of the causes of its declining population was the anti malaria vaccine that was introduce to the island making the area safe for human migration.

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Rainforests of Mindoro (Photo by Tom Brooks)

The influx of human population in the area contributed immensely to the rapid disappearance of Tamaraws in the Island. Hunting for Tamaraw meat, logging, forest fires and utter disregard for its conservation have been identified as some of the major causes for its near extinction. Today it is estimated that there no more that 300 Tamaraws roam the forest of Mindoro.

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Philippine Map showing Mindoro Island

Conservation Program

In an effort to prevent the extinction of the Tamaraw, the Philippine Congress has crafted a law that prohibits the hunting, killing and selling of Tamaraw, along with other endangered animal species. The law is contained in R.A.9147, otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

In 1979, the Tamaraw Conservation Project was established. As a result, it has successfully bred a Tamaraw in captivity in 1999. The plan to breed more Tamaraws in captivity was not pursued with vigor as the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau observed that the remaining Tamaraw Population was already breeding in the wild.

Despite of the creation of applicable laws intended to preserve the remaining. Tamaraw population, conservationists are one in saying that no amount of care and preservation will succeed unless the people will cooperate and work as one in preserving the remaining rainforest that serves as breeding ground for this endangered animal.

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