IN THE KNOW
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.