FEU hosts Tamaraw Month culmination

Nov 08, 2017

In 2002, the Philippine government declared October as the Special Month of the Tamaraw under Presidential Proclamation 273, which aims to “conserve, protect and develop the country’s wildlife resources, especially the endemic species, for the benefit of the present and future generations.” Since 2005, the Far Eastern University (FEU) has launched its own effort to protect the tamaraws. This year, FEU partners anew with the Department of Natural Resources (DENR) and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) to honor one of our most revered local animals.

This private-public collaboration hosts the culminating activities of the said month. In line with the school’s efforts to protect Philippine wildlife, the events showcase the world’s most endangered buffalo species as a national treasure coupled with the conservation efforts of rangers and communities in Mindoro. The highlight of the event is a special photo exhibit featuring 22 framed photos in full digital color, showcasing the grace and strength of the national creature as well as the Taw-buid Mangyan people who have lived side by side with it for years.

“The tamaraw is sensitive and solitary,” says FEU Chairman Aurelio Montinola. “In 2013, we set up cameras to capture the animal in its natural state. We are able to accomplish this with the help of WWF, DENR, the government of Occidental Mindoro, and the indigenous Taw-buid Mangyan inhabitants of the Iglit-Baco mountains.”

The photos also provide a closer look at the lives of the Taw-buid community. “They have lived peacefully with the tamaraw for many years. From them, we can learn more about the animal living in harmony with nature,” says FEU Director for Community Extension Services Dr. Marilou Cao.

Also known as the “dwarf forest buffalo,” the tamaraw is endemic to Mindoro. When its population dwindled to less than a hundred in 1969, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) placed it on its list of critically-endangered animals. In the succeeding years, various measures have been made to boost its population.

In 2012, FEU, DENR, and WWF launched the TAMS-2 Project (Tamaraw Times Two), which seeks to double the tamaraw population from then 300 to 600 by 2020. To date, there are around 400 tamaraws in the wild. “The tamaraw is significant not only to the environment and the people of Mindoro, but to the Philippines as well.” says DENR MIMAROPA Assistant Regional Director Vicente Tuddao Jr. “It is important that we take care of the animal for the next generation.”

WWF President Jose Angelito Palma shares the same sentiments. “More than just preserving the animal and its habitat, FEU also wants to present it as uniquely Filipino, something that is integral to our heritage,” says Palma. “We are more than happy to help out the university in this endeavor.”

The Tamaraw Exhibit will be on display in FEU Manila until November 6. The photos will be exhibited in the other FEU campuses, including five Roosevelt College Inc. schools, and will end in January 2018.(Nov. 8, 2017)