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In search of ancestral landmarks with Taobuid elders

The ground delineation of the proposed Tamaraw safe expansion zone conducted in November 2023 shed light once again on the complexity of the Taobuid ethnolinguistic group and their long history inside Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park.

This is why Ronet, who is in charge of the bio-cultural landscape approach, coordinated a new ground survey with rangers of the Tamaraw Conservation Program and the Protected Area Management Office to identify some landmarks and clarify natural borders, with Taobuid elders, who once lived in the upland and moved to the lowland a few decades ago. The four elders, ranging from 63 to 76 years old, led the way up to the Nagbobong area, at the southern limit of the tamaraw core zone of monitoring, digging back into their memories to locate the physical landmarks they once used to delimit their land-use system.

The lessons learned from this long process of ground surveys combined with Taobuid consultation and discussion are multifold:

(1) Taobuid don't like maps and straight lines, as they consider them tools to deprive them of their homeland

(2) Investigating and reshaping land-use systems is both geographic, playing at the levels of clans and territories, and historical, involving generations, kinship, and political structure.

(3) Taobuid are not antagonistic to the work of the state and its obligation to protect the tamaraw; we just need to identify the adequate means of collaboration

(4) The larger threat to tamaraw and other wildlife in that area lies from the encroachment from other IP groups, cattle ranchers, and poachers, and a lack of law enforcement

The idea of the expansion area was a suggestion of Punong Tribu Fausto Novelozo and was incorporated into the Taobuid Community Conservation Plan.  The concept of the expansion area also emerged from findings of scientific studies that observed density dependence-related issues in the no-hunting agreement area (which in 2023 became part of the protected area’s strict protection zone).  The next action will explore how to reframe the agreement system between the state and the Taobuid in an intelligible way that integrates all parameters.

This activity is supported by Mandai Nature.


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