Mindoro dwarf buffalo making a comeback after near extinction

The Tamarraw Dwarf Buffalo of Mindoro

The rare Mindoro dwarf buffalo was facing extinction. In 2013, only 345 “Tamaraw” Buffalo were left in the Philippines, however, conservation efforts have greatly increased those numbers.

An annual survey of the region of Mindoro finds that today, 382 of the rare buffalo exist. The good news is due in part to the conservation efforts of the Tau Buid of Mt. Iglit in Mindoro who are assisting the breed from extinction.

The World Wildlife Fund has also assisted the region and the Philippines in finding hope in processes to rebuild the unique animal. The Tamaraw are noted for their distinct v-shaped horns and chocolate brown coats. The rare breed has only ever been noted in the mountainous regions of Mindoro.

The dwarf sized buffalo run wild in the forests and mountains of Mindoro and are commonly the size of a western cow. 

“The Tamaraw is the flagship species of the Philippines. It is our moral obligation and international commitment to preserve them,” Rodel Boyles, who heads a joint government and private sector conservation effort.

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

The Tamaraw is considered “critically endangered” — two 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.

A large part of the conservation is warding off poachers by installing hidden cameras in the mountains, not only to catch the killers but also to better understand the behaviors of the Tamaraw. 

A team of 30 Forest Rangers patrol the 37+acre portion of the main habitat of the unique animal.  Sadly the buffalo is hunted not only for its food, but also as a trophy, as the rare species commands a high price on the black market.

 At one time, some 12,000 years ago the Tamaraw roamed throughout the Philippines in herds – falling to an all-time low of just 175 in 2001.