The recent Tamaraw Count in the Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park in Occidental Mindoro has officially recorded a total of 480 individuals from 18 vantage points. The Tamaraw Count was initiated in 2000 and is now an annual event that takes place in Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park during the summer season, usually in April. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP), is organizing and taking the lead in the annual count, which aims to monitor the status and population of Tamaraws in the MIBNP.
The activity is a two-phase undertaking comprised of the Actual Count and Data Consolidation Workshop. The actual count uses the Simultaneous Multi-Vantage Point Count Method. The study area covers the core habitat of the Tamaraw within the MIBNP measured approximately at 16,000 hectares. There are 18 observation sites or vantage points since 2008. As the Tamaraw Count progressed through the years, there were attempts to incorporate some innovations or modifications to the counting methodology to increase the accuracy of the count, like deployment of double observer-teams in sites with the highest counts in previous years and incorporation of counting grids (4-hectare per grid) with a printed map.
On the first day, the briefing tackled wilderness first aid, station assignments and distribution of supplies and equipment. The team traveled from DENR-TCP to Station 2. On the next day, the group was divided and dispersed into their respective counting stations. The count started in the afternoon. Counts were conducted two times a day (5:30-7:00am and 5:00-6:00pm) for five. Other characteristics were also recorded, such as the estimated age, sex, and location of Tamaraw. There were also other wildlife species encountered which were also recorded such as the Philippine Brown Deer and Mindoro Warty Pig, among others.
During the count, some issues were observed in the protected area by the counting team. Evidence of hunting activities was seen even in areas considered off-limits as per traditional hunting ground agreement with the Indigenous Peoples community; there are numerous spike or spear traps encountered in the core zone sites. It is also observed that there was a very recent burning for kaingin very near the Tamaraw Core Habitat.