Groups raise awareness on tamaraw conservation
To raise both awareness and funds for tamaraw conservation, the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) partnered with Tamaraw Conservation Programme (TCP) to produce a documentary entitled Suwag o Suko: Saving the Tamaraw from Extinction.
For this project, representatives from different sectors came together to witness how the TCP and Mounts Iglit-Baco Natural Park (MIBNP) rangers risk their lives to protect the tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), a wild buffalo found solely on the island of Mindoro in the Philippines.
It is among the world’s most endangered animals, considered critically-endangered and just a step above extinction in the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
“Suwag o Suko is a love letter to the tamaraw rangers and everyone working in conservation. It was made with local audiences in mind because we want to instill a sense of pride, shared identity and ownership for our natural heritage,” said Celine Murillo, who wrote the script with director Mark Ace Gatdula and other pro bono volunteers.
The hour-long documentary examines the economic, social and cultural significance of the tamaraw and how its survival is invariably tied to the management of the MIBNP, its indigenous mangyan tribes, plus the continuous conservation efforts of rangers.
Tamaraw Month is celebrated each October.
“One of Canon’s major priorities among sustainability programs is biodiversity conservation, locally and globally. It is an honor to partner with DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau and BIOFIN to bring light to pressing issues surrounding our wildlife, particularly of endangered species like the tamaraw. We hope to inspire millions of Filipinos to support conservation programs to help keep this species thriving in the wild,” said Canon Marketing Philippines, Inc. Vice President Anuj Aggarwal.
Nestled between Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, MIBNP hosts the largest remaining population of tamaraw at 480 heads, down from 523 in 2018.
A century ago, an estimated 10,000 heads inhabited all of Mindoro, from coastal lowlands to its highest peaks. In the 1930s, widespread cattle ranching spurred a deadly outbreak of rinderpest, which soon infected many of the island’s bovines. The tamaraw population was decimated – by 1969, numbers were estimated to have plummeted below 100.
The population has rebounded to 480 heads within MIBNP – a far cry from the original 10,000, but a sure sign that TCP and MIBNP’s conservation efforts are paying off.