Oceana Salutes DENR Lopez’s Bravery

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Oceana LogoMost Filipinos did  not take DENR Secretary Gina Lopez’s Rejection by the Commission on Appointments very well because of her passion and determination to truly help the environment and the people.  Unfortunately, money speaks louder and has more power over lives.  Oceana bravely releases a statement to acknowledge DENR Lopez’s contribution and dedication to the environment on behalf of the rest of the population who didn’t agree with the CA decision.  The environment can not afford to lose another ally, and the people won’t take this loss sitting down.

Oceana’s Statement:

As Earth’s largest marine conservation nonprofit, Oceana commends the trail-blazing achievements of outgoing DENR Secretary Lopez in bravely pushing for policies to sustainably protect the country’s environmentally-critical areas including protected seascapes and save them from destructive activities that threaten their ecological integrity.

Secretary Lopez has set the highest standards for environmental stewardship and mainstreamed partnerships with civil society organizations – a feat that merits replication by her successor.

Her commitment and sterling leadership in ensuring justice and equity especially to affected communities most dependent on a vibrant web of life is her most precious legacy for all of us. Oceana is most grateful.


DENR, FEU and WWF join forces to Double Tamaraw Numbers by 2020

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October, a month of Halloween activities, is also a month that brings attention to the plight of the Philippine Tamaraws.  DENR, WWF, and FEU, a college symbolized by these endangered species came together for this year’s celebration to help prevent its further diminishing numbers.

In a presscon and seminar held at FEU campus grounds, where students had a chance to interact with the speakers, numerous topics and corresponding discussions came up about security, monitoring procedures, and  maintenance issues.  The panel of speakers included WWF-Philippines Vice-Chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan President, TCP Head and Mts. Iglit-Baco Protect Area Superintendent Rodel Boyles, and WWF Consultant from Hubbs Seaworld Research Institute, Dr. Brent Stewart. FEU  Chief Financial Officer Juan Miguel Montinola gave the opening remarks.

Below is a brief history and situationer:

Ten thousand tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) once grazed and bred throughout the island of Mindoro. Sadly, the population has taken severe blows – from a crippling outbreak of cattle-killing Rinderpest in the 1930s to incessant land clearing and poaching. It is thought that only a few hundred hold out atop the grassy slopes and forest patches of Mts. Iglit, Baco, Aruyan, Bongabong, Calavite and Halcon in Mindoro.

Differentiated from the larger and more docile carabao (Bubalus bubalis carabanesis), the stocky tamaraw bears distinctive V-shaped horns, a shorter tail and a shaggy coat of chocolate to ebony fur. Adults stand four feet tall and average 300 kilograms.

Today the tamaraw is classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered – the highest risk rating for any animal species. Four national laws protect it from poaching – Commonwealth Act 73 plus Republic Acts 1086, 7586 and 9147.

Under RA 9147 or the Wildlife Act, violators can incur from six to 12 years of imprisonment plus a fine ranging from PHP100,000 (USD2440) to PHP1M (USD24,390).

Since 1979, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been working tirelessly through the Tamaraw Conservation Programme (TCP) to manage and protect tamaraw core habitats, while engaging local communities to partake in conservation efforts. Among it initiatives are the establishment of a 280-hectare Gene Pool farm coupled with continued research and habitat protection.

To support these existing TCP and government initiatives, WWF-Philippines partnered with the Far Eastern University (FEU) for an ambitious goal – to double wild tamaraw numbers from 300 to 600 by 2020.

Dubbed ‘Tams 2’ (Tamaraw Times Two by 2020), the campaign synthesizes satellite-tagging, DNA analysis and other science-based research initiatives with improved park management practices. These upland efforts shall in turn be tied in with WWF’s ongoing work to conserve the rich coasts of Occidental Mindoro in a holistic ‘Ridge-to-Reef’ conservation plan.

With its gold and green tamaraw icon, FEU has since 2005 provided support for a tamaraw management and research-oriented program by participating in annual tamaraw counts each April. FEU has additionally extended health and livelihood services for communities residing in and around the Mts. Iglit-Baco range as a component of its ‘Save the Tamaraws’ project. Says FEU Chief Financial Officer Juan Miguel Montinola, “The tamaraw is no mere FEU mascot – it is a charismatic Filipino icon. This alliance is not just about the tamaraw. It is about connecting people with the environment.”


“Yes, I believe that we can double the number of wild tamaraw before 2020,” says TCP Head and Mts. Iglit-Baco Protect Area Superintendent Rodel Boyles. “This April, we counted 327 heads – the highest ever posted since we began our annual surveys in 2001. There were many calves and yearlings, a sure sign that the population is breeding. Finally, the count is conducted in a 16,000 hectare portion of a 75,000 hectare park. If we can find 327 heads in this small area – than there should be many more.”

“Our engagement will revitalize logged-over mountain habitats, with the tamaraw as its conservation icon. Healthy peaks and forests translate to a better-managed source of water so essential for the vast rice-lands of this island’s western floodplains, while healthy reefs generate vast amounts of protein. Together with FEU, TCP and the DENR, our goal is to bring conservation results to the groups that need them the most.”  says WWF-Philippines Vice-Chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan.

“No forests, no water, no rice.  We are all interconnected.  By saving the Tams, we save ourselves. By saving the future, we save ours’” adds Mr. Tan.