Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo on the Brink of Extinction

A Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo or Tamaraw

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has recently announced that the elusive Mindoro dwarf buffalo is on the verge of extinction. Known locally as tamaraw, this is the smallest member of the bovine family endemic to the forests and grasslands of Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park in the Mindoro Oriental and Mounts Aruyan and Calavite of Mindoro Occidental. Unlike most cattle, this particular species possesses stout, V-shaped backward-pointing horns. During the 1960s, there were an estimated 10,000 of these unique creatures but were reduced to 274 due to poaching, habitat loss, and even disease. In response, the government launched the Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP) in 1979 to address the causes of decline in the animal's numbers. One of the strategies in reviving the tamaraw population was captive breeding, and in 1982, the first TCP farm was established. Unfortunately, out of the 21 animals captured for the gene pool, only one survived and remains in the only living occupant on the farm. However, there had been reports about individuals breeding in the wild, which led the program to focus on other components in managing the wild populations and their habitat. In addition to that, it has also started conducting education and information campaigns. Part of the intensive information campaign included a video shown in government offices, shipping lines plying the Mindoro route, and even local cable television. Also, as part of the education campaign, it is said that students and teachers will participate in separate day camps at the Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm in Mindoro.
A tamaraw engraved on a Philippine peso

I'm also once again proud with what the people of the Philippines are doing with regard to helping their land's wildlife. Earlier, it was reported that the populations of crocodiles were on the agenda. And now, there is another creature which is being given the attention. The Mindoro dwarf buffalo is one of the two most unique species of wild cattle that are much smaller than their larger cousins. The other is the anoa of Indonesia. Like the tamaraw, it too has a pair of V-shaped horns pointing backwards and has become rare due to habitat destruction and poaching. While it is not known what the current state in the anoa population is, it is clear that the tamaraw's population is in a critical condition. While there have been plans to create a public outreach towards the community in helping this creature, I also feel that it is crucial to investigate the disease epidemic that also contributed to its downfall over the years. With that, along with education, I believe the population of the tamaraw would be saved from the brink of extinction.

View article here


  1. I am writing an article for Mongabay.com about the conservation effort to revive the tamaraw population. I am looking for a good photo to use in the article and I love the profile shot of the tamaraw in this blog post. Is this your photo? Would you be interested in having it on Mongabay with your name credited?

    1. Hello. I did not take this photo. I think I must have got it from Wikipedia, but it is not available there anymore when I checked.