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Endangered buffalo now flourishing again

Endangered buffalo now flourishing again

A unique dwarf water buffalo driven to the edge of extinction by hunting and deforestation is flourishing again in a rare success for conservationists, the Philippines government said.
Big-game hunters using helicopters and automatic rifles, and deforestation by settlers, loggers and ranchers pushed the tamaraw, or Bubalus mindorensis, among the ranks of the world's critically endangered list by 1970.
By then its population on Mindoro island shrank to 150, from about 10,000 in the previous decade, the environment department said on its Web site.
The government banned hunting of the animal, the largest mammal native to the Philippines, and in 1979 introduced a captive breeding program that has produced just one offspring with 19 of the 20 captured buffaloes now dead.
A strategic shift to habitat conservation through creation of a 25,000-hectare jungle reserve, as well as increased environmental awareness by residents, boosted numbers to 187 by 2001.
By the following year the total reached 253, and the latest official count is 263, "although the figure could even exceed 300 if reported loose sightings in the northern side of the Iglit Baco National Park are taken in."
"The tamaraws have definitely survived. In fact, with the continuous efforts of the government, concerned sectors and the Mindorenos (Mindoro residents), they may even begin to thrive," it added.
First documented in 1888, the mature tamaraw stands about 91 centimeters high at the shoulder and weighs 300 kilograms.


Updated : 2021-05-09 14:18 GMT+08:00