Distance sampling of dungs as an alternative census for tamaraw in Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park.

Last April, DAF, DENR Tamaraw Conservation Program and Mounts Iglit-Baco Natural Park - MIBNP Protected Area Management Office carried out the fourth and last iteration of the Double Observer Distance Sampling of Tamaraw Dungs in MIBNP using 27 transect lines. This is the result of an intense collaboration of two years aiming to test and develop an alternative census method for tamaraw which doesn’t require burning grassland, unlike the counting method used until now. Data recorded will undergo cross analysis with the data from the double observer point count operation conducted earlier in April and the results of the annual tamaraw population count, so as to provide two important information: - a more precise estimation of the tamaraw population in the count zone in 2022 - a conversion factor between the density of dungs collected through the transect operations and the number of animals estimated through visual counts. In addition to enabling stopping the use of fire, this methodology allows surveying all types of habitats, to avoid blind spots inherent to visual counts and to collect data on other animals such as the Mindoro warty pig or Philippine deer as well as evidence of illegal activities. This experiment will be evaluated in order to propose to the Philippine authorities a suitable method and operational protocol to monitor tamaraw population in substitution to the current method or in complement to other techniques. We want to thank all the offices and organizations involved, and especially the PAMO and TCP rangers, for their endeavour and hard work during the whole process.