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Tamaraw 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 3 months ago


Philippines' National Treasure: Tamaraw
By: Grace Kang




Description and Rationale


The Tamaraw is a native buffalo of the Philippines, and is found only in the island of Mindoro. Mindoro was once populated with thousands of wild tamaraws but now there are less than 500 in the entire island. These unfortunate tamaraws were threatened by habitat loss, hunters, human settlement, and a severe disease. In 1930s, a rinderpest disease had spread among the herd, killing thousands and leaving less than a thousand of them. In the 1900s, 80% of Mindoro Island was covered with forest but by 1998, research showed that it was down to around 8%. Also shooting tamaraws has been a popular sport among the hunters. If not conserved quickly, the national treasure might be lost forever.

What kind of conservation programs are being used to prevent tamaraw extinction? Are the Filipinos aware of these tragic losses? Is there a way for the local people to get food without affecting the tamaraw population? How does these tamaraw affect the people and the environment near them? What kinds of essential needs does its presence hold? What is being done to preserve the Mindoro’s forest where the tamaraws inhabit?

Might there be new ways to both conserve the tamaraws and to produce more generations of tamaraws? Since the human settlement has greatly impacted the natural habitat of tamaraws, restricting laws to move houses to a distant place from the forest might encourage the tamaraws to return to their homes. Also, replanting trees to restore some unused lands of the land might make a greater home for the tamaraws to live freely and multiply. Since the tamaraws are endangered in Mindoro, the people there should be more actively involved with forest conservation, shooting restrictions, and preventing tamaraw resource contamination.

The initial purpose of this project will be to research the biology and ecology of the tamaraws living in the island of Mindoro, through a search of the literature as well as observations and involvement for conservation of tamaraws. If possible, further research will be attained by interviews with the local people of Mindoro and their experiences with tamaraws. These attained finding will be help introduce new methods for conserving tamaraws.

It is hoped that the people of Philippines will know the importance of the existence of tamaraws in Mindoro and work together to find ways and practice those ways to preserve their national treasure.


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Common Names and Synonyms


Bubalus mindorensis is also known as Mindoro’s dwarf water buffalo. It is commonly called the tamaraw. For the local people who live on the island of Mindoro, they call it, timaraw. B.mindoresis is closely related to the carabao and anoa but is slightly shorter and smaller.




Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia (warm-blooded vertebrates)

Order: Artiodactyla (hoofed mammals), Cetartiodactyla (even-toed ungulates)

Family: Bovidae (true antelopes, cattle)

Genus: Bubalus (water buffaloes)

Species: Bubalus mindorensis (small buffalo of Mindoro)


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Morphology and Physical Description


Bubalus mindorensises are smaller in stature than their related species and they have straight horns that are different from normal cattle’s horns. They have a strong and stocky bovine body, four legs that end in split hooves and a small, v-horned head at the end of a short neck. For adult B.mindorensises, the height up at their shoulders is about 106cm and their body length is about 220cm with an additional 60cm for their tail. They weigh about 200 to 300kg.

The adult b.mindorensises are dark brown or black with no noticeable difference between the sexes. The juvenile b.mindorensises are reddish brown and have dark brown legs. As they mature, their horns thicken and grow longer and their body color becomes darker. B.mindorensises have more hair than B.bubalises (Asiatic water buffalo) and have shorter limbs. They have a pair of grayish stripes that begin from the inner edge of the eye to the starting of the horns. Their faces are of the same color as that of their body with a black nose and a black lip. Their horns have a flat surface and a triangular base. The horns do not curve like the B.bubalises and they grow to about 36 to 51cm.

There are no significant internal features for B.mindorensis.


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Getting Food


B.mindorensises are herbivores that feed on grasses such as cogon and talahib and only when these grasses are young and still soft. During rainy season, they feed on bamboo shoots. They eat during the daytime hours because they are naturally diurnal animals but because of the increasing human activity on the island, B.mindorensises are becoming secretive and nocturnal to avoid human contact.





Bubalus mindorensises breed during the dry season, from December to May and are solitary during most of the year. Gestation is 8 to 10 months during Mindoro’s wet season so that the calves have access to fresh and abundant resources. The female B.mindorensises give birth to a single calf and nurse their young while the males do not provide any parental care. The calf remains with its mother for 2 to 4 years. Female calves tend to stay with their mother longer than male calves. They reach adulthood at 6 years of age, which is thought to include sexual maturity and age to be able to give birth to an offspring.


Environmental Factors


B.mindorensises live in tropical highland forested habitats. They favor areas that contain thick brush and are near open-canopied glades where they may graze on grasses. Due to increasing human activity on the island, B.mindorensis’ habitat has somewhat expanded to lower-altitude grassy plains. They are found in Mindoro’s grasslands and secondary successional forests that are 300 to 1000m in elevation. B.mindorensises prefer habitats that provide access to forage, water and shelter.

In 1930s, a rinderpest cattle disease had spread among the tamaraws, killing thousands of them. Nowadays, there are no known diseases severely affecting the herd. B.mindorensises don’t have predators because of their size and their habitat. However, because of human activities such as deforestation and hunting, tamaraws are in fear that limits their natural movement.


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Origin and Distribution


The fossils of B.mindorensises on other islands around the Philippines’ archipelago show that the presence of the family was once widespread throughout the whole country. In the 20th century, fossil records showed that B.mindorensises were once found on the northern island of Luzon, in the Philippines. B.mindorensises were never found in other countries, only the Philippines islands, which makes them a national treasure.


Importance to People


One of the grasses B.mindrensises feed on is cogon. Cogon is a fast-growing Asian weed that grows in low maintenance areas. It is a dominant weed that kills and damages nearby plants and ruins the habitats of other species in that environment. Additionally, cogon is a hot-burning fire hazard that causes forest fires and burns trees when exposed to intense heat and sunlight. It tolerates well with sunlight that it spreads rapidly.

Cogon has been a great problem in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas, and Texas in the United States as well as other countries around the world. These invasive and rapidly growing weeds have destroyed native plants and ruined agricultural industries in many countries. Especially, cogon is more at risk of catching fire in dry areas that have drought conditions which puts places like Florida and Texas at risk. Cogon is considered one of the world’s 10 worst weeds that have disturbed many farmers and gardeners.

Being a picky eater, tamaraws will eat cogon when they are still soft and young. If B.mindorensises did not exist in the island of Mindoro, the land would be overrun with cogon weeds and be burnt up most of the time. These cogon-eaters caused vegetation succession in the island allowing human settlement on the wild island. Also, B.mindorensises are only found in Mindoro which increases their value. If this useful creature is introduced to suffering agricultural areas and farmers around the world, it would bring a great amount of honor and profit to the Philippines.

Since tamaraws are only found in Mindoro, they could also open doors to ecotourism. This could bring great profit to Philippines and also help preserve the endangered species. People of Mindoro take pride in tamaraws because they are a national treasure and a national symbol. They named vehicles, waterfalls, sports teams and tourists locations after its name.


Survivability and Endangered Status


B.mindorensises are in the peek stage of extinction. There used to be thousands of them in Mindoro however, because of human settlement, habitat destruction, a severe disease and hunters, there are only about 500 left on the island. Not many people know about this dramatic decline and although some may acknowledge this fact, they do not care about working to conserve the B.mindorensises. There have been some restrictions regarding tamaraws such as prohibiting killing, hunting and wounding tamaraws and a committee has been specifically formed to conserve tamaraws.


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Potential Solutions


Is there an effective way to stop the decline of tamaraws? Tamaraws have been disturbed by a number of human activites for many years but fortunately, there have been some solutions to conserve endangered tamaraws. One of the ways is banding tamaraw hunting and setting up conservation programs. However, still the red alarm for endangered tamaraws is on and it needs more effective solutions. Tamaraws are a national treasure and their protection is a must because they are a symbol and pride to the Filipinos. Below are 2 possibilities of effective ways to solve tamaraw decline with an analysis of advantages and disadvantages for each.Is there an effective way to stop the decline of tamaraws? Tamaraws have been disturbed by a number of human activites for many years but fortunately, there have been some solutions to conserve endangered tamaraws. One of the ways is banding tamaraw hunting and setting up conservation programs. However, still the red alarm for endangered tamaraws is on and it needs more effective solutions. Tamaraws are a national treasure and their protection is a must because they are a symbol and pride to the Filipinos. Below are 2 possibilities of effective ways to solve tamaraw decline with an analysis of advantages and disadvantages for each.

Possibility 1: Ecotourism


Tamaraws are only found in the island of Mindoro. They are a symbol and pride of the Filipinos. If they take the tamaraws and put them in a well conserved zoo or park, it could open doors to ecotourism.




1. The number of tamaraws has been decreasing since human settlement and research show that they haven’t been increasing for decades. If they are placed together in a protected and undisturbed area, it will encourage the tamaraws to interact with one another to produce offspring.

2. Although there has been restrictions regarding to tamaraw hunting, the new people’s army in Mindoro ignore the law and do as they want. If the tamaraws are protected in a zoo or a park, it will prevent the hunters to get them.

3. Since tamaraws are only found in Mindoro, people from all around the world could visit this zoo or park to see them. This could bring forth a great amount of profit and worldwide honor to Philippines.




1. Since human settlement, tamaraws have been scattered around the island which could make it difficult to look for them in the wild. It has been also hard for the local people of Mindoro to look for them in the mountains.

2. Tamaraws might not enjoy being watched by tourists and have a hard time adjusting to the lifestyle in the zoo or park. Also, tamaraws are solitary which could give discomfort to the ones who are placed in the protective area together.


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Possibility 2: Imforming and Campaigning


Not many people in Philippines know the dramatic decline of tamaraws. This is one of the main reasons why the tamaraws are experiencing such hardship. Due to the lack of recognition, the tamaraws aren’t supported with enough protection and deference. If Filipinos are more aware of the fact that their national treasure is endangered, they will work to conserve and protect the remaining tamaraws.



1. As Filipinos become more aware of the endangered tamaraws, they will provide funds to rebuild tamaraws’ habitats and to organize researchers to find out more about tamaraws’ lifestyle and behavior. Since there hasn’t been researches that reached the important and useful part of tamaraws, the fund will provide more opportunity to interact with wild tamaraws and learn more about them.

2. Filipinos will respect the tamaraws because they are only found in the Philippines. They will find the true value of the creature and take great pride and honor in them.


1. Even though Filipinos are informed about tamraws, there aren’t many direct ways to support them. Because tamaraws are in Mindoro, Filipinos cannot give all the concern it should receive. It’s not the littering or pollution that endangers the tamaraws so there isn’t an easy way to point out what to do and what not to do to protect the tamaraws.


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Possible Future Directions


Although there are only but few tamaraws left in Mindoro, if the conservation programs work towards success and change the falling numbers of tamaraws to rising numbers, tamaraws could be commercially introduced to agricultural workers all around the world. Tamaraws graze on cogon weed which is a destructive weed that damages fields and farms. Many farmers in America, Europe and China have been disturbed by this weed and if there are enough tamaraws, they could be used to get rid of the cogon weed. Filipinos can export tamaraws to places with great expenses and gain respect from other countries for the tamaraws.


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“Bubalus mindorensis.” Ultimateungulate. 2 January 2007. Brent Huffman. 6 April 2008 <http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Bubalus_mindorensis.html>.


Cabibog-Sinha, Corazon. Philippine Biodiversity: Principles and Practice. Manila : Haribon Foundation, 2006.


Fuentes, Art. “The Tamaraw: Mindoro’s endangered treasure.” Haribon Foundation. 21 February 2005 ANEST project for Biodiversity 11 April 2008. Conservation.



L.R.Oliver, William. “Bubalus mindorensis.”Fieldmuseum. 2002. Mammalian Fauna of the Phillipines. April 2008 <http://www.fieldmuseum.org/Philippines_mammals/Bubalus_mindorensis.htm>.


Navarro, Roberto C. “The Mindoro Tamaraw is Vanishing.” The Pinoy.com. 2000. Archipelago. 11 April 2008 <http://www.thepinoy.com/sites/archipelago/html/navarro_mindoro_tamaraw.html> .


Rivera, Blanche S. “Endangered Tamaraws Breed in the Wild Again.” INQ7.net. 23 October 2005. Ecology Asia. 8 April 2008



“Tamaraw : Only in the Philippines.” Philippines Travel Blog. 21 June 2007. Sitemeter. 11 April 2008



Umaming, Michael. “Mangayans Say Our Rights First Before Tamarw Concerns.”Solidarity Philippines Australia Network. August 1996. Northern Dispatch-NORDIS. 11 April 2008



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