At 75,500 hectares, Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park is the largest protected area of Mindoro, an island of the Philippines. The national park is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, providing refuge to numerous endemic and critically endangered species of fauna and flora that have become rare elsewhere on the island. This includes the Tamaraw, a dwarf buffalo that is endemic to Mindoro Island and the only wild cattle species living in the Philippine Archipelago, and the Endangered Oliver’s Warty Pig. The park also overlaps the territories of two indigenous tribes, the Buhid, Tau-buid, who are part of the eight etho-linguistic groups that make up the Mangyan indigenous people, the original inhabitant of Mindoro.
But the future could be uncertain for both Tamaraw and Mangyans alike. Once widespread across the island, the Tamaraw has suffered from heavy hunting and continuous habitat destruction over the last century, leaving the population today at about 400, down from 10,000 living on the island in 1900. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the Tamaraw as Critically Endangered.
Today wildlife and lumber poachers are causing the death of an undetermined number of animals, most probably including Tamaraw, and causing fear within Mangyan territories. Mangyans are increasingly using non-selective hunting methods, such as snare traps and pitfall traps, inadvertently killing Tamaraw. Land-use pressure continues to increase as the result of a growing population and the increasing establishment of Filipino settlements.
Because Tamaraw and Mangyans share the same space and rely on management of the environment and the preservation of these mountains, the long-term survival of the Tamaraw is directly tied to the future of Mangyans. Helping one means helping the other. Global Wildlife Conservation is working with D’Aboville Foundation to implement consistent solutions to save the Tamaraw in the wild, and to address the non-sustainable use of the natural resources of the region.
The project’s overall aim is to ensure the recovery of the Tamaraw and Oliver’s Warty Pig through supporting the sustainable use of resources by resident Mangyan indigenous peoples, by:
Improving the governance and protection measures in Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park with a framework and set of tools that address biodiversity conservation and ensure better livelihood and benefits to the residing Mangyan indigenous communities.
Establishing a dedicated zoning system along with an integrative hunting management plan within the core zone of monitoring that ensure protection of the last-known viable Tamaraw population of Mindoro. This will help alleviate pressure from Mangyan traditional hunting activities on wildlife, potentially doubling the range of Tamaraw.
Implementing innovative land-use practices and planning, including agro-forestry systems. Doing so will bolster tree and plant species in the area that can provide a complementary source of food for Mangyans, while also providing more habitat for wildlife. It will also help maintain forest cover and decrease the risk of soil erosion.
(Tamaraw horns image by Gregg Yan, via Arkive)
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Tamaraw Fast Facts
Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo
Red List Status
Hunting, habitat conversion