MANILA, (PNA) — Let’s face it.
The extremely rare tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) and the ever-present carabao (Bubalus bubalis) look really similar.
To celebrate Tamaraw Month (this October), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) presents quick ways 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 stands four feet at the shoulder and weighs about 300 kg.
It is solitary, skittish and prone to charging when threatened or startled.
During the Pleistocene Epoch some 12,000 years ago, tamaraw herds ranged across mainland Luzon.
Extirpated by hunting, disease and land conversion, however, 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 IUCN as critically-endangered, just one step above extinction.
Domesticated 5,000 years ago and introduced by Malay settlers to the Philippines some 2,200 years ago, the carabao stands about 4.5 feet at the shoulder and weighs from 500 to 700 kg.
Raised for milk, meat and hide, it is highly gregarious, docile and subservient – perfect for work like pulling carts and ploughs.
Around 3.2 million carabaos range throughout the Philippines, remaining the country’s most familiar and beloved farm animal.
As part of the ‘Tams 2’ campaign, partners WWF, Far Eastern University (FEU), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Tamaraw Conservation Program and Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) deployed four camouflaged camera traps to Mindoro’s Iglit-Bacomountain range.
The high-tech cameras gave scientists insights on habits of the secretive tamaraw.
’Tams 2’ aims to double wild tamaraw numbers from 300 heads to 600 heads by 2020.