The (wild) water buffalo, an endangered bovine species
The (wild) water buffalo is an endangered bovine species. This mammal is probably originally from Asia. It has been tamed by humans and occurs in several places in the world. It mainly eats grass to provide itself with enough energy. This cow is used in agriculture in various countries in the world. It is often used as a draft animal because of its enormous strength. How big can it get and what is its maximum speed? Why has this herbivore been tamed?
The water buffalo
- Living environment
- Agriculture & livestock
- The offspring
The water buffalo is a herd animal that can be recognized by its curved horns and dark fur. The scientific name for this mammal is ‘Bubalus arnee’. ‘Bubalis’ is the domesticated variety and also the name of the subspecies. The water buffalo is also called ‘carabao’. It belongs to the family ‘Bovidae’ and the order ‘Artiodactyla’.
These mammals have hooves that are ‘two toes’ apart. They have a uniform black or (dark) brown coat. The largest specimens can reach a height of up to 1.90 meters. The height at the withers is the shoulder height of the animal. It grows up to 3 meters long and can weigh up to 900 kilos. Despite its enormous weight, it can reach a speed of 48 kilometers per hour.
Difference between male and female water buffaloes
Males have large curved horns. These are located on top of his head and are bent backwards or upwards. The females have smaller horns. In addition, the males are about one-third the size of the females.
Scientists suspect that it is originally from Asia. However, it now also occurs in Africa, Australia, America and even Europe. The specimens that occur in Africa usually live in large herds of more than a hundred buffalo. The water buffalos from Asia are mostly located in the tropical rainforest and live in smaller herds. Here he grazes through the muddy water to keep himself cool. The heat and humidity of the tropical rainforest causes an unpleasant temperature. This mammal is a herbivore, as it only eats plant foods. The animals chew on aquatic plants when they are in the water. However, they seem to prefer grass, herbs and leaves found on pasture land.
This animal has almost no natural enemies. The water buffalos that live in Asia can sometimes be related to tigers. They attack the tiger in question at the same time to defend themselves. This tactic usually works in favor of the water buffalo. As a result, tigers are often looking for the weaker ones that are outside the herd. You can think of youngsters and sick specimens.
Threat of the species
Besides tigers, humans are a major threat to the survival of the wild water buffalo. This is because humans are responsible for destroying their natural habitat. The animal is also hunted. Researchers have discovered that diseased domestic buffalo can also threaten the wild population. The different diseases can easily spread to the wild variety. Crossbreeds between domesticated water buffalo and wild water buffalo also threaten the wild population.
Agriculture & livestock
The water buffalo was first tamed by humans thousands of years ago. This cattle offers countless possibilities in the field of agriculture and livestock breeding. In addition, the meat of the animal is eaten. While the wild variety is in danger of extinction, the domesticated species is abundant.
The buffalo is used in many countries because of its enormous strength. It can therefore be used as a draft animal on rice plantations and for transporting all kinds of agricultural equipment (such as plows). In addition, it is used as a draft animal for moving carts and wagons. This allows both people and various goods to be moved. Because the males are bigger and stronger than the females, they are more often used for moving equipment.
The females can be used for their milk production. Their milk production is almost as high as that of cows and makes up about 5% of all the milk in the world. The milk is drinkable, but can also be used for the production of buffalo mozzarella.
On average, a female gives birth to a calf every two years. It takes about 9 to 11 months for the offspring to be born. The newborn calf can go to its mother for milk 6 to 9 months after birth. The calf depends on the mother for the first few years. The male offspring join another herd after about three years. This herd consists of males only. The females usually stay in the same herd as their mother. Wild water buffalos can live to be about 25 years old.