OCCIDENTAL MINDORO, Philippines- World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF) and Far Eastern University are said to support the initiative and goal of Tamaraw Conservation Programme (TCP) and local governments in doubling the population of wild tamaraw from 300 to 600 in 2020.

These partnership and upland campaign is dubbed as “Tams 2” (Tamaraw Times Two by 2020) that is said to be tied in with the ongoing effort of WWF in conserving the rich coasts of Occidental Mindoro through “Ridge-to-Reef” conservation plan.

FEU on the other hand has been supporting the tamaraw management and reach-oriented program since 2005. In addition, as part of the “Save the Tamaraws” project, the university extended their support through health and livelihood services for the residents of Mts. Iglit-Baco.

At present, the tamaraw has been classified as critically endangered, the highest risk rating for any animal species, by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However both NGOs and the local government believe they can save and increase the population of the tamaraw which is highly considered as national icon.

“Yes, I believe we can double the number of wild tamaraw before 2020,” TCP head and Mts. Iglit-Baco Protected Area Superintendent Rodel Boyles told Manila Channel.

“This April we counted 327 heads – the highest ever posted since we began our annual surveys in 2001. There were many calves and yearlings, a sure sign that the population is breeding. Finally, the count is conducted in a 16,000 hectare portion of a 75,000 hectare park. If we can find 327 heads in this small area – then there should be many more,” Boyles added.

Moreover, TCP’s head veterinarian in the early 1990’s Roberto Escalada said that the tamaraw’s bastion is the core zone of Mts. Iglit-Baco.

“The verdantly-forested slopes of Mt. Halcon and Eagle Pass for one, host tamaraw which are smaller and more elongated than the ones in Iglit-Baco – a possible physiological adaptation to the area’s dense thickets. Atop the chilly slopes of Mt. Aruyan live tamaraws which have extremely shaggy, almost black fur – a possible adaptation to the bitter bite of mountain air. One thing is for sure – more tamaraws survive than we think. But we must never let-up,” Escalada said.

Furthermore, the local government of Occidental Mindoro headed by Governor Josephine Ramirez-Sato offered full support as they assist in the development of a research center where studies will be conducted on how the population of wild tamaraw can be increased.

“Our engagement will revitalize logged-over mountain habitats, with the tamaraw as its conservation icon. Healthy peaks and forests translate to a better-managed source of water so essential for the vast rice-lands of this island’s western floodplains, while healthy reefs generate vast amounts of protein,” WWF-Philippines Vice-Chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan said in an interview.

With the partnership and collaborative effort of TCP, DENR, FEU and WWF, the conservation result that each group aims is said to be highly possible.

For more news and information regarding wildlife preservation, visit the site http://wwf.org.ph/wwf3/news/newsroom.