Rare dwarf buffalo charges against extinction

2014-10-31 14:08
Philippines' dwarf buffalo. (WWF, AFP)

Philippines' dwarf buffalo. (WWF, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Manila - The population of the Philippines' dwarf buffalo, one of the world's rarest animals, has grown to its largest since efforts to save them from extinction began, conservationists said on Friday.

An annual survey counted 382 tamaraws in a protected mountain area this year, an increase from 345 in 2013, according to data from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The tamaraw, famed for its distinct v-shaped horns, can be found only in the mountains of Mindoro, a farming island in the central Philippines.

The stocky tamaraw, with its chocolate brown coat, runs wild in the forest and weighs half as much as the more common carabao, which is used by farmers in the Philippines to plough rice fields.

"The tamaraw is the flagship species of the Philippines. It is our moral obligation and international commitment to preserve them", forest ranger Rodel Boyles, who heads a joint government and private sector conservation effort, told AFP.

"If they are not protected, the species might get wiped out in five years", he said.

The tamaraw is considered "critically endangered", two steps away from extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Hunting and the destruction of their habitat to make way for grazing areas for cattle led to their near decimation, as the population fell from 10,000 in the 1900s to just 154 by 2000, according to the WWF.

The government and private sector's Tamaraw Conservation Programme aims to double the dwarf buffalo's population from 300 in the mid-2000s to 600 by 2020, Gregg Yan, a local spokesperson for the WWF told AFP.

This requires ramping up forest patrols to ward off poachers and installing hidden cameras in the mountains to better understand the behaviour of the beast, Yann said.

A team of 30 forest rangers patrol a 14ha portion of a mountain that is considered the buffalo's "core habitat", Boyles said.

"They are hunted down for food and trophy. When a species is rare, their price in the black market also goes up", he said.

Boyles said conservationists had held meetings with locals to discourage them from eating tamaraw meat.

"People also have this misconception that the flesh of wild animals taste better than farmed ones", he said.

The effort is paying off as the tamaraw population has been increasing every year for the last 12 years, WWF data shows.

This year's survey also showed an increased number of young tamaraws, indicating that they have been reproducing in the wild, Boyles said, adding past attempts at captive breeding have failed.

"We are hopeful that their numbers will continue increasing", he said.

Read more on:    wwf  |  philippines  |  conservation  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.