Let’s face it, the extremely rare Tamaraw and the super common Carabao look pretty much the same. But are they? This week, Yuneoh shares pointers to differentiate the two buffalo species.
Tamaraw horns have a distinctive V-shaped configuration and are 14 to 20 inches long. Both horns are flat with triangular bases.
In contrast, Carabao horns have a C or half-moon shape and are much longer – ranging from 24 to 60 inches.
The Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) stands four feet at the shoulder and weighs about 300 kilogrammes. It is solitary, skittish, and prone to charging when threatened or startled. During the Pleistocene Epoch 12,000 years ago, Tamaraw herds ranged across mainland Luzon. Extirpated by hunting, disease and land conversion, only around 350 hold out atop the rugged mountains of Mindoro in the Philippines. The country’s largest endemic land animal, it is today classified by the IUCN as critically-endangered, just one step above extinction. (Gregg Yan / Wikipedia)
Domesticated 5000 years ago and introduced by Malay settlers to the Philippines some 2200 years ago, the Carabao (Bubalus bubalis) stands about 4.5 feet at the shoulder and weighs from 500 to 700 kilogrammes. Raised for milk, meat and hide, it is highly gregarious, docile and subservient – perfect for draft-work like pulling carts and ploughs. Around 3.2 million Carabao range throughout the Philippines, remaining the country’s most familiar and beloved farm animal.
Tamaraw Conservation Efforts
Since 1979, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been working tirelessly through the Tamaraw Conservation Programme (TCP) to conserve the Tamaraw. To support existing DENR initiatives, Far Eastern University (FEU), Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), plus the local government of Occidental Mindoro and indigenous Taw’buid Mangyan joined hands to conserve both the Tamaraw and the verdant mountain habitats it calls home.
Dubbed ‘Tams-2’ or Tamaraw Times Two by 2020, the campaign synthesizes camera trapping and other science-based research initiatives with improved park management practices. Today wild Tamaraw numbers jumped from 153 in 2002 to 401 as of April 2017.