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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Bubalus mindorensis
Tamaraw
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Classification
 

Kingdom:
Phylum:
Class:
Order:
Suborder:
Family:
Subfamily:
Tribe:
Genus:

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Cetartiodactyla
Ruminantia
Bovidae
Bovinae
Bovini
Bubalus

Common name:
Scientific name:
Other names:
Tamaraw
Bubalus mindorensis
Mindoro dwarf buffalo, Timaraw, Tamarao, Tamarau, Mindorobüffel, Búfalo de Mindoro

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 220 cm
Shoulder height: 95-120 cm
Tail length: 60 cm
Adult weight: 200-300 kg

The tamaraw is a small, stocky buffalo. Adults are grayish-black in color, with a darker line running along the spine and white markings on the insides of the forelegs. Lighter markings are also found above the eyes, where they form "eyebrows". Some tamaraw have white spots on their lower cheeks and/or a white crescent on the throat. Both males and females have a pair of relatively straight, backward-pointing horns which are extremely stout. Each horn is very wide and triangular at the base and remains very thick for most of the length - only towards the sharp tips do they become narrower and more rounded in cross section. The horns of males tend to be longer and thicker than those of females, growing up to 51 cm long.

Similar species
  • Within their range, the tamaraw is a distinctive native species. Domestic water buffalo (or "carabao" - Bubalus bubalis) are also found in the Philippines. These domestic buffalo tend to be less stocky than the tamaraw; their horns grow from the sides of their heads and arc in a "C" shape (where as the horns of the tamaraw are set close together at the top of the head and grow in a "V" shape).

Reproduction and Development

Gestation period: 276-315 days
Litter size: 1.
Life span: 20-25 years.

Tamaraw tend to give birth during or slightly after the rainy season (which runs from June to November); December and January appear to be prime birthing months for one population. Babies are born reddish-brown in color, and slowly darken over three or four years to the adult coloration. Most youngsters will stay with their mothers until they are between two and four years old.

Ecology and Behavior

Presently, tamaraw are nocturnal in nature although this is likely the result of human disturbances in their habitat. Captive animals tend to be most active in the early morning and late afternoon and evening. Mud wallowing appears to be an important activity for tamaraw. Although the species is reportedly fierce when cornered, their rarity makes this an unusual occurrence. Amongst themselves, conflict is usually in the form of animals chasing each other, sometimes over distances as long as a kilometer. The head (especially the horns) is used to signal aggression, being lowered so that the horns are vertical and then shaken from side to side.
Family group: Solitary.
Diet: Grasses.
Main Predators: None, apart from humans.

Habitat and Distribution

Tamaraw inhabit areas with mixed forest and grassland. The species is endemic to the Philippine island of Mindoro where they are currently found in Mount Iglit-Baco National Park, around Mount Aruyan/Sablayan, and in the Mount Calavite Tamaraw Preserve. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Range Map
(Redrawn from Custodio et al., 1996; Hedges et al., 2008)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Critically endangered (2008).
CITES Listing: Appendix I (2009).
Threats: Habitat loss (due to farming, cattle ranching, and expanding urban areas), diseases from livestock, illegal hunting.

Only 300 tamaraw are believed to survive, spread among three populations.

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