Photos by Gab Mejia
Kali, the only offspring of the Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm project, has died after 21 years
The lone tamaraw progeny of Mindoro, Kali has died after 21 years. According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Kali passed away at around 2:30 p.m. last Saturday, presumably due to old age, having outlived its life expectancy of 20 years.
Kali was roughly 84 years old in human years, making the creature the longest living tamaraw on record.
Short for “Kalikasan Bagong Sibol,” Kali was born on June 24, 1999. It was the only tamaraw to survive this long from care of Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm (TGF) in Barangay Manoot, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro.
TGF was established in 1980 by the DENR as a breeding facility for the Mindoro dwarf buffalo, or the Bubalus mindorensis when their population declined to less than 100 in the ‘70s.
It was a barren effort to repopulate the species, which currently has a population of around 500 across Mindoro. But Kali, the sole surviving animal in the gene pool farm, served as “an educator,” “advocate,” and a “symbol of hope” for conservation.
Since 2000, the tamaraw is classified as a critically endangered species for the International Union of Conservation Research (IUCR).
How the country conserves species
There are a few living testaments in the country that prove that captive-breeding of endemic species is possible. These include the Philippine crocodile, the Philippine eagle, and the Philippine forest turtle. Most of these creatures are propagated through in-situ, habitat-based, and ex-situ, off-site, conservation.
According to Neil del Mundo, Tamaraw Conservation Program coordinator and assistant protected area superintendent for Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park, however, the only way to produce more tamaraws like Kali is to have a well-planned, science-based approach. Universities like Siliman University and Far Eastern University have been partnering with the government to advance education and innovate technologies specific to in situ conservation.
Concerted efforts and funds come in next to build resources and education centers that help raise awareness, especially for local communities who coexist with these animals. The only way to avoid unsustainable behavior from indigenous tribes, without destroying their traditional practices, is to include them in the development plans. Although a separate sector takes care of indigenous groups, engagement helps them partake in the conservation.
There is still hope for our endangered species when we find a way to conserve wildlife in our own ways. One way is to stop supporting animal exploitation. Forms of cruelty under the guise of entertainment like rides and circus performances are more conspicuous than leathers, fur, and wool. The fashion industry isn’t exactly the frontrunner when it comes to conservation, so you have to be careful about the clothes and products that you buy. You can also join organizations like World Wildlife Fun (WWF) to learn more about the threats that push our endemic species into the edge of collapse.