The tamaraw population has decreased to 600 from about 10,000 individuals in the 1990s due to human-induced activities. The species is now categorized as Critically Endangered based on DENR-Department Administrative Order No. 2019-09 or “Updated List of Threatened Philippine Fauna and their Categories” and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.
There are currently four known species subpopulations of tamaraw in Mindoro. These are found in Mt. Calavite Wildlife Sanctuary in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro; Aruyan-Malati Tamaraw Reserve in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro; Inner Upper Mindoro Range straddling the provinces of Occidental and Oriental Mindoro, and Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park, which harbors the largest known population.
With funding from the Foreign-Assisted and Special Projects Service (FASPS), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in MIMAROPA Region and the Tamaraw Conservation Program conduct the Research on Metapopulation of the Tamaraw in Mindoro Island to address the data gaps in geographic distribution and habitat range of tamaraw across Mindoro. The objectives of this study revolve around the establishment of information on the island-wide habitats, distribution, and estimated populations of tamaraws in Mindoro. Community consultations and elicitation of data from localities with reported sightings of tamaraw, rapid habitat assessment and population survey of prospected new habitats, and census methodologies are the primary activities to be conducted to accomplish such objectives.
As of 2022, community consultations were conducted in 21 of 22 target municipalities. Key informants from the municipalities of Abra de Ilog, Sta. Cruz, Rizal, Sablayan, and Calintaan in Occidental Mindoro and of Puerto Galera, Bansud, Gloria, Naujan, and Victoria in Oriental Mindoro were able to identify possible tamaraw habitats in Mt. Malasimbo, Mt. Halcon, Bucayao Grande, Bucayao Monte, and “Ilog ng Bansud,” and just outside the Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park near the corner 4 and 5.
A survey was conducted in Santa Cruz, Ocidental Mindoro on December 2021 to verify the claim of Alangan Mangyan group of tamaraw sightings. The study revealed tamaraw population of about five or six individuals based on hoofmarks and dungs. The confirmation of presence of species was being qualified as “rediscovery” because of previous documented sightings of species of about 20 individuals in the locality in 1987 (Petocz, 1989).
The information collated during the implementation of this project will feed into the Tamaraw Conservation and Action Plan (TCMAP) to help gain the support of LGUs for the conservation of tamaraw. (Tamaraw Conservation Program/ Tamaraw Conservation Program/ Neil Anthony A. Del Mundo, Alvin N. Tabuga)