Written by April Felicia C. Fojas
Philippines’ Bubalus mindorensis, locally known as the tamaraw, is now critically endangered.
If that doesn’t startle you, let me tell you why it should. The tamaraw is a part of the Philippines heritage. They are endemic to our country, meaning they can only be found in this country. They are restricted to the Philippines. Though fossils suggest they used to thrive all over the country, they are now only found in Mindoro at Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park (MINBP), the home of the remaining tamaraws.
Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park | Photo: Celine Murillo @celineism
The decline of the tamaraws began back in the 1930s due to rinderpest or “cattle plague”. Continuous hunting also played a role, as well as habitat loss throughout the years. The tamaraw population went from tens of thousands to roughly 500 left. Five hundred.
In efforts to save these mammals, the Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP) was established in 1979 under Executive Order No. 544. The main focus of the TCP is to protect the remaining tamaraw within MINBP. But even with the TCP, it is still a challenge to do so.
Photo: Celine Murillo @celineism
In line with National Tamaraw Month, I urge you to watch the docufilm entitled “Suwag o Suko” this October. Get to know more about our natural heritage and the various conservation efforts being made by the TCP and the 23 tamaraw rangers who put themselves at risk to save these animals. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go directly to the TCP.
You can watch the teaser below:
The tamaraw is our people’s heritage. Our Filipino pride. Twenty-three is a small number, but if these 23 rangers can put their lives on hold, take long periods of time away from their families, and risk their lives just to protect these animals, doesn’t that prove that these animals are worth saving? Shouldn’t we be doing whatever we can to save them as well? Don’t let our heritage go extinct—the fight to save the tamaraw continues!
You can join the cause by staying informed. Follow updates about docu-film Suwag o Suko at https://www.facebook.com/suwagosuko