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Philippine Daily Inquirer - - REGIONS -

The tama­raw ( Bubalus min­doren

sis) is one of the Philip­pines’ crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species. It re­sem­bles the carabao, only it is smaller and its horns are shorter, which grow up­ward in a “V” form. Its dense hair cov­er­ing is dark brown to gray­ish black and is thicker and darker than the carabao’s.

Also called the dwarf wa­ter buf­falo be­cause it grows only about a me­ter tall, it is the largest na­tive land mam­mal in the Philip­pines and it can only be found in Mindoro.

The crit­i­cally en­dan­gered species is soli­tary in na­ture, ex­cept dur­ing breed­ing when a bull and a cow are usu­ally seen to­gether. A tama­raw cow usu­ally bears only one calf once every twoyears and the young is separated from the mother when it is be­tween 2 and 4 years old.

Fe­ro­cious and ag­gres­sive, the an­i­mal has a very keen sense of smell and can de­tect an at­tacker even a mile away.

Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR), the tama­raw pop­u­la­tion was es­ti­mated to be 10,000 in the early 1900s but be­cause of a rinder­pest out­break in the 1930s, the fig­ure de­clined dras­ti­cally.

The big­gest num­ber was recorded at Mt. Iglit-Baco Na­tional Park in Oc­ci­den­tal Mindoro. The 2018 count held there in April recorded 523.

Seventy other tama­raws were found at Up­per Am­nay Wa­ter­shed in Sablayan, while oth­ers were re­ported to be on Mt. Aruyan, Mt. Bongabong, Mt. Calavite and Mt. Hal­con.

In early Oc­to­ber, up to 30 were seen graz­ing again onMt. Gim­paray at Nau­jan town in Ori­en­tal Mindoro. The last pub­lished record of tama­raw sight­ing in the province was in Ca­tuiran River in 1887, or 131 years ago, ac­cord­ing to the Mindoro Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion Inc.

Tama­raws are threat­ened mainly due to habi­tat de­struc­tion and hunt­ing. This has forced the an­i­mal to move fur­ther in­land, into denser veg­e­ta­tion, mak­ing them harder to mon­i­tor. While they usu­ally for­age on grass, they are now thriving on dif­fer­ent forms of veg­e­ta­tion in sec­ondary forests.

Pres­i­den­tial Procla­ma­tion No. 273 of 2002 de­clares Oc­to­ber of every year a spe­cial month for the Con­ser­va­tion and Pro­tec­tion of the Tama­raw in Mindoro.

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