Tamaraw count drops
By: Deniel Salvador B. Morillo

 

From 413 in 2016, the count of Tamaraws (Bubalus mindorensis) in Mts. Iglit - Baco National Park (MIBNP), Occidental Mindoro slid to 401 this year.

table re tamaraw

The drop in the number of the Tamaraw or the Philippine Dwarf Buffalo may be attributed to the presence of balatiks or native hunting traps used by the Mangyans in the area, as reported during the annual Tamaraw Population Count held on April 22 - 26, 2017.

tamaraw mbcfi copyThe Tamaraw is on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and is classified as critically endangered—the highest risk rating for animal species. The IUCN Red List is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the conservation status of plant and animal species.

MIBNP is the core habitat of the Tamaraws and is also the home of the indigenous people’s (IP) group Tau-Buid, commonly referred to as Mangyans. In accordance with Republic Act No. 8371 or The Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997, IPs have Sustainable Traditional Resource Rights or the right to use, manage, protect and conserve land, air, water, and minerals; plants, animals and other organisms; collecting, fishing and hunting grounds; sacred sites; in accordance with their indigenous knowledge, beliefs, systems and practices. The same law also provides the IPs the right to claim ownership over lands, bodies of water traditionally and actually occupied by IPs, sacred places, traditional hunting and fishing grounds, and all improvements made by them at any time within the domains.

Recognizing both the rights of the IPs and the urgent need to protect the Tamaraws, the Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP) of the DENR entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), with Mangyan tribe leaders, designating an area where the Mangyans can practice traditional hunting.

Herold S. Castro, Field Operations Assistant of the MIBNP, explained that despite the agreement, some members of the Mangyan tribe still place balatiks outside the designated hunting area, trapping and killing animals including the Tamaraws. The TCP is having continuous talks with the tribe leaders to address the issue and to further strengthen the agreement on the protection of the Tamaraws.