Three poachers reportedly shot and butchered a critically endangered tamaraw in the Mounts Iglit-Baco Natural Park in Mindoro Friday, August 28.

Patrolling park rangers reportedly caught the poachers drying meat near the base of Mt. McGowen before noon on Friday. They managed to arrest two of the poachers, while one was able to escape. However, the two arrested poachers were also able to escape to the forest later on.

(Tamaraw Conservation Programme/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The rangers confiscated homemade shotguns, along with a sack of tamaraw meat, which was supposed to be sold illegally as tapa or buffalo bush jerky.

“Poachers might be using COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) lockdown as an opportunity to illegally enter our country’s protected areas and hunt animals. Rest assured that our rangers won’t stand for this. We’ll see to it that these poachers are prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Neil Anthony del Mundo, Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP), said in a statement.

“Nothing, not even the pandemic, is an excuse to kill legally-protected wildlife, for no one is above the law. We will work with both DENR-MIMAROPA (Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) and the TCP to ensure that poachers get the punishment they deserve. Let this serve as a lesson for would-be poachers,” said Department of Environment and Natural Resources assistant secretary Ricardo Calderon.

Tamaraws are the world’s most endangered buffalo species and have been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The animals are legally protected under the Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. Rangers and wardens at the Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park and TCP have been monitoring and helping in the conservation of the tamaraws for decades. Tamaraw population increased from less than 100 in 1969 to about 600 these days.

“Our tamaraw frontliners who in spite of losing incomes due to the pandemic, continue their daily patrols without expectation of compensation just to ensure the safety of our tamaraw. It is high time and urgent budgetary resources for environmental protection and enforcement be given utmost priority for protected areas, which are home to critically endangered and threatened species like the tamaraw,” said BIOFIN Philippines project manager Anabelle Plantilla.

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