Fresh hoof marks and dung of the critically endangered Tamaraw were spotted near one of their habitats in Occidental Mindoro, providing hope to those who are fighting to save the gentle beasts from extinction, a conservationist said.
It was a "milestone achievement" of the Dec. 3 to 16 survey by the cash-strapped Tamaraw Conservation Program, said coordinator Neil Anthony del Mundo. The last documented wild tamaraw in that area near Sta. Cruz town was published in 1987.
"For years po ang concentration ng tamaraw conservation ay sa Mt. Iglit-Baco Natural Park. With this recent rediscovery, we now know na extensive pa ang tamaraw habitat outside protected areas," he told reportr, adding rangers would also verify reports of tamaraw presence in the highlands of Puerto Galera.
"Luckily, very hard to access 'yung area," del Mundo said. It took rangers four days of hiking for the rangers to get there. "Kaya siguro nag thrive ang tamaraws kasi inaccessible 'yung lugar," he added.
Based on TCP's 2021 count, the number of tamaraws left in the wild fell to 427 from 480 in 2019.
Though it would be unfair to compare the numbers given a change in their methodology, del Mundo earlier said if you take into account how Tamaraws reproduce, as well as the recent rise in poaching incidents, the number is enough to conclude that the species' population has not improved.
Hence, they've been pushing for the passage of the "Tamaraw Conservation Management Act”, which seeks to institutionalize TCP as an office under the Department of Natural Resources.
If enacted, it is poised to "change everything for Tamaraw conservation," del Mundo said, noting for one, the bill can solve their problem of job and life security especially for the Tamaraw rangers who, at the moment, are only paid P6,000 a month with no other benefits or even hazard pay.