Bubalus mindorensis [Heude, 1888].
- Citation: Mem. Hist. Nat. Emp. Chin., 2:4.
- Type locality: Philippines, Mindoro.
- Citation: Mem. Hist. Nat. Emp. Chin., 2:4.
The taxonomic record (above) is taken from Wilson and Reeder (1993). Bubalus mindorensis is included in the subgenus Bubalus [Hamilton-Smith, 1827], being affiliated with the Asiatic water buffalo (B. arnee) primarily due to horn morphology (Nowak, 1991; Custodio et al., 1996). The tamaraw was once classified as a subspecies of the Asiatic water buffalo (Corbet and Hill, 1992), although some authors have allied this species with the anoas (B. depressicornis and B. quarlesi) in the subgenus (genus) Anoa (see Rabor, 1977; Nowak, 1991). B. mindorensis has no recognized subspecies and has no synonyms (Custodio et al., 1996).
|Reported measurements for tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis)|
|Source||Adult Weight||Head & Body Length||Shoulder Height||Tail Length|
|Buchholtz, 1990||-||-||100 cm||-|
|Corbet and Hill, 1992||-||-||100-105 cm||-|
in Custodio et al., 1996
|-||220 cm||94.5 cm||60 cm|
|Rabor, 1977||-||-||120 cm||-|
|Roth and Montemayor-Taca, 1971
in Custodio et al., 1996
|Talbot and Talbot, 1966||~275 kg||-||-||-|
The face is the same color as the body; the only facial markings seen in the majority of individuals are a pair of gray-white stripes running from the inner corner of the eye towards the horns, creating light "eyebrows" (Custodio et al., 1996). In some individuals, whitish markings are present on each side of the lower jaw; there may also be a white crescent on throat (Corbet and Hill, 1992; Custodio et al., 1996). The skin of the nose and lips is black (Custodio et al., 1996). The ears are moderate in size, with a length of approximately 13.5 cm from the notch to the tip, and have white markings on their inner surfaces (Rabor, 1977; Custodio et al., 1996).
Both sexes of tamaraw have unmistakably stout, wedge-shaped horns which are relatively short, straight, and black in color (Custodio et al., 1996). The horns are triangular at the base with flat surfaces along most of their length; they grow in a "V" rather than the arcing "C" of B. arnee (Rabor, 1977; Corbet and Hill, 1992). Towards the tips, the horns become more rounded in cross-section, and the sharp tips may come close together (Rabor, 1977). Like the anoas, the bases of horns are close together, and they are swept back at approximately the angle of the forehead. A pronounced series of irregular ridges and pits form rings around the horns; the outer surfaces are usually worn smooth (due to rubbing on objects) while the inner sides remain very rough (Rabor, 1977). Reported horn lengths range from 35.5-51.0 cm (Nowak, 1991); actual measurements summarized by Custodio et al. (1996) include 35.5 cm, 38 cm, 40 cm, 42 cm, and 43 cm. The basal circumference of one horn was 33.5 cm (Hooper, 1941 in Custodio et al., 1996). The horns of males are usually longer and thicker than those of females (Custodio et al., 1996).
Females do not associate as closely with their young as do the Asiatic water buffalo (B. arnee). One mother was observed by Kuehn (1986) grazing 50 meters away from a neonate, which lay on the ground with the neck stretched out along the ground. Although reminiscent of the "hider" behavior seen in some other ungulates, it is unknown to what degree tamaraw fit this pattern. Young animals may stay with their mothers for several years, dispersing when 2-4 years of age (Custodio et al., 1996). Although an interbirth interval of two years was reported by Custodio et al. (1996), one female observed by Kuehn (1986) was accompanied by three juveniles. The life span of B. mindorensis is about 20-25 years (Buchholtz, 1990).
The tamaraw is primarily a grazer, feeding on grasses such as Cynodon arcuatus, Digitaria sanguinalis, Eleusine indica, Sorghum nitidum, Paspalum scrobiculatum, Alloteropsis semialata, and Vetiveria zizanoides (Talbot and Talbot, 1966). Young bamboo shoots (Schizostachyum sp.) may be eaten when grasses grow tall and coarse (Talbot and Talbot, 1966). Although plentiful, cogon (Imperata cylindrica) and talahib (Saccharum spontaneum) are only eaten when it is short and green (Talbot and Talbot, 1966).
Tamaraw are largely solitary, with the only lasting association being between a mother and her offspring (Talbot and Talbot, 1966). 82% of the 218 observations of adult males made by Kuehn (1986) were of lone individuals, while adult females were either solitary or accompanied by calves in 66% of 107 observations (Kuehn, 1986). The largest group observed by Kuehn (1986) was comprised of six individuals: an adult bull, a cow and calf, and three immature males less than 3.5 years old, while one group of eleven animals was reported to Talbot and Talbot (1966). Males and females may associate throughout the year, if only fleetingly for a few hours (Custodio et al., 1996). Wild tamaraw observed by Suchomel (2005) were fully solitary (except for a female with a grown calf) and kept several hundred meters between adjacent individuals in grassland habitat. The solitary nature of the tamaraw is suggested to be an adaptation to a forest environment, where large groups would prove to be a hindrance (Eisenberg, 1966 in Kuehn, 1986).
Tamaraw regularly use well-trodden paths through their habitat, including through steep terrain; based on hoofprints and scat, multiple animals use the same pathways although likely not at the same time (Suchomel, 2005). Mud wallowing in captive tamaraw is observed most frequently during the day, and this activity is likely important in wild animals as indicated by the presence of mud wallows throughout appropriate habitat (Talbot and Talbot, 1966; Momongan and Walde, 1993 in Custodio et al., 1996). Running and pawing dirt were observed most frequently at night in captive animals by Momongan and Walde (1993 in Custodio et al., 1996).
B. mindorensis has a well-known reputation for fierceness when cornered, although many reports are unsubstantiated (Rabor, 1977). Among four captive tamaraw, Suchomel (2005) noted that the female was significantly more aggressive (especially to strange humans) than the males. Few agonistic encounters between tamaraw have been witnessed - of the eight male-male conflicts observed by Kuehn (1986), all were pursuits. Half of these occurred when the animals were condensed into small fragments of habitat due to fires, while two others were of an adult male chasing dispersing juvenile males. The distances of the pursuits were quite lengthy - between 100 and 1,000 meters, with an average of 300 meters (Kuehn, 1986). The threat posture of cows involves lowering the head so that the horns are vertical, accompanied with lateral shaking; tamaraw have not been observed tossing earth or making vertical motions with the horns (Kuehn, 1986).
Countries: Philippines (Hedges et al., 2008).
The principal threat to the continued survival of the tamaraw is habitat loss as a result of agriculture and the development of human infrastructure; the introduction of diseases and parasites from domestic species is also of concern (Hedges et al., 2008). The tamaraw was historically hunted heavily for meat and as a trophy animal (Rabor, 1977). Hunting was carefully regulated prior to the Second World War but, in the times since then, a growing human population, lumber operations, ranching, and widespread availability of firearms have caused the observed dramatic decline in numbers (Talbot and Talbot, 1966). Although protected by law, tamaraw are still illegally captured and killed (Rabor, 1977; Hedges et al., 2008).
A captive breeding program was initiated in 1982 in Mount Iglit-Baco National Park with 21 individuals. Unfortunately, the program was not successful with very few animals being born; as of 2006 only two tamaraw remained at the breeding centre.
Boubalos (Greek) a buffalo. Mindoro is an island in the Philippines; -ensis (Latin) suffix meaning belonging to, the tamaraw is restricted to to this island (see distribution for more information).
- Local names
- Tamaraw, Timaraw [Mindoro] (Rabor, 1977)
- Tamarao, Tamarau (Buchholtz, 1990; Hedges et al., 2008)
- Tamarau, Tamarao, Mindorobüffel (Buchholtz, 1990)
- Búfalo de Mindoro (Hedges et al., 2008)