Nat’l Museum mourns death of last captive-bred tamaraw ‘Kalibasib’

Published October 15, 2020, 12:16 PM

by Hanah Tabios

The National Museum of the Philippines joined biodiversity conservation agencies in mourning the death of “Kalibasib” (Kalikasan Bagong Sibol), the last captive-bred tamaraw who had been a conservation icon and a beacon of hope for many conservationists.

National Museum of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN

“Kali,” as he is fondly called by his caretaker, was born in the Tamaraw Gene Pool Farm in Barangay Manoot, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro on June 24, 1999. The animal was the offspring of one of the 20 adult tamaraws brought into the facility in 1980, serving as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) captive breeding program to conserve the endemic Philippine tamaraw population.

Twenty adult tamaraws from the wild were part of this program and eventually passed away, including Kali’s mother “Mimi,” in 2011.

Kali’s death on Oct. 10 at 21-years-old happened during the Special Month for Conservation and Protection of the Tamaraw in Mindoro under Proclamation No. 273 signed in 2002.

“They are critically endangered, facing extinction due to poaching, illness, and habitat loss greatly affecting their dwindling population in the wild,” the NMP said.

Although tamaraws are the largest endemic mammal in the Philippines, it is much smaller than the carabaos. Experts said their average lifespan is from 20 to 25 years.

“The government’s efforts to save the Philippine tamaraw population have been a big challenge,” the NMP added. “Nonetheless, helping the government through concerted efforts in protecting its habitat and educating the people to protect the tamaraw species may improve their situation. Kali might not be considered just as the last captive-bred species that have died. Rather he may be referred to as the last remaining tamaraw from the wild,” it said.