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                Asian Wild Water Buffalo

                Asian Wild Water Buffalo

                Asiatic buffalo, Wild water buffalo

                Kingdom
                Phylum
                Subphylum
                Class
                Order
                Family
                Subfamily
                Genus
                SPECIES
                Bubalus arnee
                Population size
                4,000
                Life Span
                12-25 yrs
                TOP SPEED
                48 km/h
                WEIGHT
                700-1200 kg
                HEIGHT
                150-190 cm
                LENGTH
                240-300 cm

                Asian Wild water buffalo are animals of huge size with large, rounded chest and rather short legs. Females are noticeably smaller than males. The buffalo have small ears, drooping downwards. They have fluffy tips on their tails and large, outspread hooves. Horns of wild water buffalo are curved and outstretched. Horns of females are longer than those of males while horns of males are much thicker. Both males and females are black to slate-grey while mature males are identified by rather dark color. The buffalo have light colored lower legs and white spots of half-round form on the upper chest and throat. In addition, sometimes there can be faint light colored spots around the eyes, mouth and nose.

                Distribution

                Availability of water is a vital life condition for the Wild water buffalo. The area of their distribution includes south-eastern Nepal, southern Bhutan, western Thailand, eastern Cambodia and south-western Vietnam. Buffalo in Vietnam usually come from Mondulkiri region of neighboring Cambodia. The Wild water buffalo are also widely distributed over northern, eastern and central regions of Myanmar. Habitat of Wild water buffalo includes swamps, grasslands and alluvial plains while forests serve them as shelter.

                Asian Wild Water Buffalo habitat map

                Climate zones

                Habits and Lifestyle

                These buffalo are diurnal and nocturnal animals, usually grazing in mornings and evenings. Throughout the year, they congregate into maternal groups of herds that are not strictly controlled and organized. The number of individuals within a group can be 10-20, sometimes reaching even 100. Home range of each group is up to 3.9 square miles territory with water source and areas for grazing and resting. Adult males congregate into bachelor herds, containing up to 10 individuals, while older males prefer leading solitary life. To keep cool in the heat of the day, buffalo roll in the mud and take mud baths. Not only does the mud help them keep cool, but it also protects their skin from bites of insects. In the absence of mud they usually rest in shadowy places.

                Diet and Nutrition

                Wild water buffalo are grazers - herbivorous and ruminant. Their regular diet includes aquatic plants, crops, grasses, herbs, leaves and bark of trees. They feed on aquatic vegetation that grows in marshy areas and along rivers. The buffalo also eat microalgae and stems.

                Mating Habits

                MATING BEHAVIOR
                REPRODUCTION SEASON
                October-November
                PREGNANCY DURATION
                11 months
                BABY CARRYING
                1 calf
                INDEPENDENT AGE
                1-2 years
                FEMALE NAME
                cow
                MALE NAME
                bull
                BABY NAME
                calf

                These buffalo are polygynous, meaning that one male mates with multiple females. The dominant male mates with females of the clan, after which the male is driven away by them. The breeding season usually takes place from October to November. Gestation period lasts 11 months, after which a single calf is born. Newborn calf weighs 35-40 kilograms on average. Calves are nursed for 6-9 months, becoming independent during first 2 years after birth. Male buffalo reach sexual maturity at the age of 1.5 year while females do at the age of 3 years.

                Population

                Population threats

                Threats to the buffalo population are many: parasites and diseases, usually transmitted by livestock; hunting; loss of habitat; interbreeding of wild buffalo with domestic and feral buffalo; competition for water and food between buffalo and domestic stock.

                Population number

                The overall population of The Wild water buffalo is not more than 4,000, including 2,500 mature individuals. That’s why in the IUCN Red List the buffalo is mentioned as Endangered (EN) species with decreasing population.

                Ecological niche

                Tigers, the top predators of their range, prey on the Wild water buffalo. In addition, scavengers of the habitat feed on corpses of dead buffalo. Also, buffalo herds affect the nesting places of magpie geese and other birds in the area. On the other hand, by grazing and soil compacting, large herds of buffalo can damage flora of the habitat.

                Fun Facts for Kids

                • This buffalo belongs to the Bovine tribe along with African buffalo, bison, yak and certain species of wild cattle. Wild water buffalo are the largest members of the Bovine tribe.
                • Wild water buffalo is the national animal of the Philippines and is called “carabao” there.
                • One of their nicknames is “living tractor of the East”.
                • Famous cheese “mozzarella” is made from milk of Wild water buffalo.
                • Wild water buffalo, living in tropical and subtropical forests, spend most of their day in muddy waters of the area.

                References

                1. Asian Wild Water Buffalo Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_water_buffalo
                2. Asian Wild Water Buffalo on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/3129/0

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