Rizal, Occidental Mindoro – October, Tamaraw Conservation Month, brought with it sad news as Kalibasib, the last captivity-bred tamaraw endemic to the country, passed away on Saturday last week at the age of 21.
Kalibasib, whose name is a blend of the phrase “Kalikasan Bagong Sibol” (nature newly sprung) is a product of two among 20 tamaraws brought in from the wild in 1980 to form a gene pool. All except Kalibasib eventually died due to pests and disease.
Tamaraws, though naturally elusive, are hunted by illegal poachers. To date, the official census puts the animal’s population at 480.
The UN Development Programme Biodiverisity Finance Initiative (Biofin) had already raised P1.15 million to support forest rangers and wardens impacted by the Covid19 pandemic and allow them to keep guarding Mt. Iglit-Baco National Park in Mindoro, where the largest population of tamaraws is found.
The Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP) was supposed to have begun their feasibility studies with the International Union for Conservation of Nature for off-site conservation and translocation of tamaraws in Mindoro.
Its coordinator Neil Anthony del Mundo said that in some areas, only five to ten tamaraws remain and that the species may not survive without intervention.