Bubalus mindorensis 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Bubalus mindorensis
Species Authority: Heude, 1888
Common Name(s):
English Tamaraw, Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo
French Tamarau
Spanish Búfalo de Mindoro

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C1+2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2008-07-01
Assessor(s): Hedges, S., Duckworth, J.W., Huffman, B., de Leon, J., Custodio, C. & Gonzales, J.
Reviewer(s): Burton, J. & Stuart, S.N.
The species qualifies for inclusion in Critically Endangered under Criteria C1+2a(ii), given the number of mature individuals is estimated to be less than 250, with a continuing decline estimated at over 25% over the next three generations (generation length estimated at 10 years). In addition, over 90% of individuals are presumed to be in one subpopulation, Mount Iglit-Baco National Park.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Tamaraw is endemic to the Philippine island of Mindoro (9,735 km² in area), where it was formerly widespread across the island (S. Hedges and W. Duckworth pers. comms. 2000; Heaney et al. 2002). However, the current range is estimated to cover less than 300 km², in only two or three areas: Mount Iglit-Baco National Park (within the Iglit mountain range), Mount Aruyan/Sablayan, and Mount Calavite Tamaraw Preserve (Custodio et al. 1996, de Leon et al. 1996). The species was more widespread prehistorically in the Philippines, with Pleistocene epoch records from Luzon (Beyer 1957 in Kuehn 1986).
Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Number of Locations:3
Lower elevation limit (metres):200
Upper elevation limit (metres):1800
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In 2006, three separate subpopulations were known. Population estimates undertaken have increased in frequency and have benefited from improved techniques over time. The estimate of numbers of individuals has increased subsequently, but it is almost certain that these increases are a reflection of improved estimates rather than an actual increase in numbers of individuals. Based on recent surveys, the minimum total population is estimated at around 300 individuals with 60 to 70% of these mature individuals (J. de Leon pers. comm. 2006). However, earlier field data suggested that the percentage of mature individuals was 35 to 59% (Oliver 1994, Custodio et al. 1996, Heaney et al. 2002). The subpopulation on Mount Iglit-Baco, as of April 2005 was estimated to number approximately 269 individuals (the actual number might be slightly higher). The subpopulation on Mount Calavite (the most northerly site) in 2004 had an estimated 15 individuals based on faecal matter and animal tracks; there has been only one confirmed sighting. The subpopulation in Aruyan has an estimated 15 to 20 individuals, with six confirmed recent sightings (J. de Leon pers. comm. 2006). The population size is therefore around 300 animals, and the number of mature individuals is 105-210, depending on the percentage of mature animals in the overall population. An estimated continuing decline of 25% over the next three generations (approximately 30 years) does not seem unreasonable given that the number of subpopulations reportedly declined from five or six to three between 1990 and 2006.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:105-210
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Formerly, Tamaraw were found across the whole of Mindoro from sea level to the high peaks (to over 1,800 m), inhabiting open grassland or forest glades, thick bamboo-jungle, marshy river valleys, and low to mid-elevation forests (Rabor 1977). The species is currently confined to a few remote areas over 200 m, and is most often recorded in secondary forest and mixed forest/grassland (Kuehn 1986, Custodio et al. 1996, Heaney et al. 2002).

Tamaraw are largely solitary, although females occur with offspring (Talbot and Talbot 1966). Males and females occasionally associate temporarily throughout the year (Custodio et al. 1996), which is similar to other bovines species, such as African buffalo, banteng and gaur. The solitary nature of the species is probably an adaptation to forest habitats, where large groups would prove to be a hindrance (Eisenberg 1966, in Kuehn 1986). Tamaraw feed primarily on grasses, as well as young bamboo shoots, in open grasslands, resting within tall grasses or dense forest (Talbot and Talbot 1966). Although formerly diurnal, Tamaraw have become largely nocturnal due to human encroachment and disturbance (Talbot and Talbot 1966).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Hunting of this species is reduced. it is primarily for food, but in the past was also for sport.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main current threat to the Tamaraw is habitat loss due to farming by resettled and local people, with a high human population growth rates in and around its remaining habitat. In some areas, fires set for agriculture are a threat to the species' habitat. Cattle ranching and farming activities pose a number of threats, including the risk of diseases spreading to the Tamaraw from livestock and burning of pastures leading to a reduced number of palatable grass species. Historically, Tamaraw were hunted for both subsistence and sport, which led to a period of drastic decline in numbers of individuals and populations (Rabor 1977). Hunting was carefully regulated prior to World War II, but since then a growing human population, logging operations, ranching, and widespread availability of firearms on Mindoro have caused a dramatic decline in numbers (Talbot and Talbot 1966). Since the 1980s, sport hunting has reduced due to a decline in the Tamaraw population, closure of nearby ranches, and more intensive patrolling and awareness activities since the establishment of the protected area. International trade in this species or its derivatives has not been reported. Although protected by law, the illegal capture and killing of this species continues.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Tamaraw is listed on CITES Appendix I. Tamaraw receive total protection under Philippine law. The largest of the three known subpopulations occurs in Mount Iglit-Baco National Park. A small number of Tamaraw are held in captivity in the Philippines, but the captive breeding program has had no success. Of the 21 individuals captured around 1982, there were nine individuals remaining in 1997. As of 2006, two individuals remained, one of which is from the original population and one which was bred in captivity, and there are no further plans for captive breeding. The original captive breeding programme consisted of placing the animals in a semi-natural "gene pool" on Mindoro, but these animals were not intensively managed, nor were the husbandry techniques focused on building a large captive population.

Required research for this species includes an island wide population survey to determine if there are any additional extant populations. There is also a need for improved habitat conservation through effective management. In addition, the feasibility and need for a new captive breeding programme should be assessed.

Citation: Hedges, S., Duckworth, J.W., Huffman, B., de Leon, J., Custodio, C. & Gonzales, J. 2013. Bubalus mindorensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T3127A43419719. . Downloaded on 27 August 2016.
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