MANILA The Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) is advocating more efforts to save from extinction Mindoro island's endemic but critically-endangered tamaraw (scientific name 'Bubalus mindorensis') despite advances in its conservation.
"We're gaining headway in conserving the tamaraw but must do more to avoid losing this wildlife species," BMB tamaraw focal person Cecile Garcia said in an interview on Thursday.
Garcia pointed out that refraining from hunting tamaraws and destroying their habitats are among the measures the public can do to help conserve this species. She warned that since the tamaraw is part of Mindoro's environment, its extinction would create an ecological imbalance.
An increase in the annual April count of tamaraws this year and reported fresh sightings of the mammal in one of its former habitats in Mindoro could help boost efforts to save the animal, Garcia said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a global authority on status and measures for safeguarding the natural world, cited studies indicating that tamaraws formerly inhabited the entire Mindoro. The IUCN noted that hunting and habitat loss due to farming contributed to the tamaraw population's decline.
According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 4-B (Mimaropa), the tamaraw population dipped over the decades, decreasing from an estimated 10,000 heads in the early 1900s to about 100 heads recorded in the late 1960s.
The extent of the population decline led to the IUCN's classification of the tamaraw as critically endangered, it said. "Such classification heightened the need for intensifying efforts to save the tamaraw from extinction," Garcia said.
Proclamation 273, series of 2002, declared October of every year as Special Month for the Conservation and Protection of the Tamaraw to help promote conservation of this species. "This year's tamaraw month's theme, 'Hataw sa sama-samang paghakbang para sa tamaraw', reflects the bid for further action to save the animal," she said.
Garcia said available data show that conservation efforts, such as educating MindoreAos about the tamaraw's ecological importance, are so far paying off. "The April 2018 tamaraw count showed 523 heads up from 253 heads in 2002," she said, citing the latest results of DENR monitoring of the tamaraw's core habitat on the Occidental Mindoro side of Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park (MIBNP).
A news report earlier this month noted the sighting of about 30 tamaraws on Mt. Gimparay in Mindoro Oriental's Naujan municipality.
The BMB has neither confirmed nor denied the report. "We're still awaiting DENR 4-B's official word on the matter," Garcia said, adding that the regional environment office is surveying parts of Mindoro island where tamaraws could be found, aside from MIBNP. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency