Groups band together to raise funds for Tamaraw Rangers

Published August 2, 2020, 12:14 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

A group of some 20 organizations collectively called the Tamaraw Society have banded together to raise funds for Mindoro’s Tamaraw Rangers to enable them to continue conservation work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Gregg Yan via Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz / MANILA BULLETIN)

Since March, most of the Philippines has been under general or enhanced community quarantine, causing the country’s national parks to close to prevent the virus from spreading.

One of the parks that was left with little funding is the Iglit-Baco Natural Park (MIBNP) in Mindoro, which cut the sole source of income for 32 wardens and one ranger, all members of Mindoro’s indigenous Taw’buid, Buid and Iraya tribes. 

(Gregg Yan via Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz / MANILA BULLETIN)

To cover a years’ worth of salaries for these tamaraw frontliners, the non-government organization-led Philippine Parks and Biodiversity has formed the Tamaraw Society. 

Comprised of an initial 20 organizations, the society’s members commit to donate or raise P20,000 each. The funds will be disbursed through the Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP) under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Our campaign is a COVID-19 emergency response to unite concerned groups by securing much-needed salaries and allowances for the retrenched frontliners who protect them,” PH Parks and Biodiversity representatives Nella Lomotan and Ann Dumaliang said.

Eight entities have confirmed their commitments as of July — the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines, Masungi Georeserve, Eco Explorations, D’Aboville Foundation, Planet CORA, Fund the Forest, Ecoheroes Philippines, and Oscar Lopez Jr.

The initiative complements the #TogetherforTamaraws, a campaign launched in July by the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) project under the United Nations Development Programme and the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau and DENR-Region 4B.

“Exotic places like the Iglit-Baco mountain range might seem distant to most people, but they must be conserved. Rangers and wardens need and deserve our support to keep doing good conservation work,” Onno van den Heuvel, BIOFIN global project manager said.

The park’s wardens serve as guides and porters for tourism and research expeditions while both TCP and park rangers keep poachers at bay, in case the lockdown entices some to illegally enter the park and hunt animals.

At present, only 23 TCP rangers and three MIBNP wardens are patrolling a core area of 2,500 hectares inside the 106,655-hectare MIBNP, which hosts at least 480 of the world’s last 600 tamaraws.