Lone captive-bred tamaraw bids farewell at 21

FEU Advocate
October 12, 2020 13:19

Kalibasib, also known as Kali, the lone survivor of the nation's tamaraw captive-breeding program died last Saturday, October 10. 

Sheltered in Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm in Barangay Manoot, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, Kali has been at the forefront of the conservation program since his birth in June 1999.

The conservation program, since its offset in the 70s has been ascribed with ‘failure’ as the population of tamaraws plummeted despite existing efforts. Eventually, Kalibasib’s birth spearheaded the captive-breeding program and restored faith for the tamaraws in hopes of seeing its proliferation.

For years, the dwarf buffalo has earned the title of ‘star attraction’ for the region of MIMAROPA since it is endemic to Mindoro, at the top of Mount Iglit-Baco. Much of the rare buffalo’s life—on top of breeding efforts—had assisted Mindoro’s tourism as well. 

Kali—who stood at 21 before its death, is considered old as tamaraws are said to live for only 20 years.

In accordance with the Presidential Proclamation No. 273 in 2002, October is declared as ‘Special Month for the Conservation and Protection of the Tamaraw in Mindoro.’

Ngayong Tamaraw Conservation Month sana ay tumimo sa isip ng bawat isa na pangalagaan ang mga hayop na unti-unti ng nauubos, lalo't higit ang Tamaraw na tanging dito lang sa ating lalawigan makikita (In this time of Tamaraw Conservation Month, we hope for everyone’s mindfulness of the situation at hand, to ensure the safety of our endangered animals, especially of tamaraws which are endemic to our region),” Rizal, Occidental Mindoro Mayor Ernesto Pablo expressed in his Facebook post.

As of 2019, there were only 480 tamaraws recorded in sightings during the Tamaraw count in Mount Igiit-Baco National Park.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a tamaraw was reported to be hunted down last September which sparked the attention of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) to reinforce safety measures in the area.

With an alarming decline of the population, tamaraws have long been classified as critically endangered along with the Philippine Eagle, which are both considered the country’s flagship animals.

Prior to the captive-breeding program, the life of the tamaraws was no stranger to such threats. Its population which stood at approximately 10,000—almost neared extinction as it primarily suffered from hunters.

Together with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines), Far Eastern University (FEU) formed a long-term partnership seeking to double the tamaraw population by 2020 with the 'Tams2 Program,' additionally embarking academic endeavors to educate students on environmental concerns and the dire situation of tamaraws. 

-Antonio Luis Carreon
Photos courtesy of Gab Mejia via Instagram