The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has launched a powerful documentary on the tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), which aims to increase awareness and raise funds for the critically endangered animal that can only be found on Mindoro island.

“Suwag o Suko: Saving the Tamaraw from Extinction” is a one-hour film that tackles the economic, social and cultural significance of tamaraw, as well as the incessant efforts and hard work by tamaraw rangers who put their lives at risk to protect it from hunters.

The documentary, which made a debut at the National Museum of Natural History on October 30, was produced through the partnership of the DENR and the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) of the United Nations Development Programme, with the help of young film practitioners. The movie premiere capped the celebration of October as Tamaraw Month.

DENR Assistant Secretary and concurrent Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Ricardo Calderon expressed hope the documentary would inspire more Filipinos to help save the tamaraw from extinction.

“I hope every single Filipino will have the opportunity to seeing real-life tamaraws today, and the coming years, decades and centuries,” Calderon said.

The film is scheduled for regular screening in cinemas nationwide. It targets to raise P2 million to purchase patrol gear and equipment and to cover the accident insurance of the rangers.

Proceeds of the documentary will go to the DENR’s Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP), which seeks to address the decline in tamaraw population.

Tamaraw, also called dwarf water buffalo, is the largest native land mammal in the Philippines. From 10,000 heads in the 1900s, the tamaraw population has dramatically decreased to only 480 heads as of the latest count, making it among the world’s most endangered animals.

Illegal logging, poaching, over hunting, intensive farming and the establishment of ranch in the forests of Mindoro had all contributed to the depletion of the tamaraw population.

In 1982, the Tamaraw Gene Pool was established under the program’s captive breeding component. However, the 20 tamaraws originally captured for the gene pool have died. At present, TCP is focused on managing wild population and habitat, and the conduct of information and education campaigns on the importance of saving the tamaraw.###