INDIAN WILD BUFFALO
The Indian Wild Buffalo is the state animal of Chhattisgarh (India) and is a large species of bovine native to the Indian Sub-continent and South East Asia. This magnificent animal is an ancestor of domestic Buffalo and is genetically invaluable. The total population of this animal all over the world is only about 4,000 of which half of the population lives in India itself. In India also, majority of the population lives in North – East India. In India, tourists from all over the world flock to Kaziranga National Park of Assam to have amazing sightings of this animal. This animal is also important to the ecosystem because it helps in the rejuvenation of grasslands.
INDIAN WILD BUFFALO FACTS
|Lifespan||25 years in wild | 29 years in captivity|
|Gestation Period||300 to 340 days|
|Sexual maturity||Puberty starts in 18 months|
|Number of offspring||Usually 1 calf per birth.|
Physical Characteristics: The Indian Wild Buffalo are very massive animals and are larger than domestic buffalo. They generally weigh around 700 to 1,200 kg. Males are generally larger than females. Their total body length is about 240 to 300 cm. They grow up to a height of about 150 to 190 cm. Their tail length is about 60 to 100 cm. long. Both the females and the males bear horns. The horns of males are thicker and shorter than those of females. Their skin color is generally ash to black. They are heavier than domestic buffalos. Their ear is comparatively smaller in size and droop downwards. The tail tip is bushy in nature. They are the second heaviest living bovid species on earth. Their huge structure makes them a very intimidating prey. Their huge structure has kept them safe amongst the bug cat species like tiger also.
Habitat: The wild buffalo is mainly found in the alluvial grasslands, marshes, swamps and river valleys. They are generally found in areas that have plenty of water holes and resources. In India, they are generally concentrated to North East India in Kaziranga National Park, Manas and Dibru-Saikhowa National Parks, Laokhowa Wildlife Sanctuary and Bura Chapori Wildlife Sanctuary, D’Ering Memorial Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh. With the new effots of the Maharashtra Government, they have been reintroduced in new area in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. The Kolamarka forest area has been declared as a conservation area for the wild buffalo here. In Chhattisgarh, the Indravati Tiger Reserve has also small population of wild buffalo preserved here.
Diet: They are generally grazers and mainly feed upon grasslands. Their diet also consists of herbs, fruits, barks, sedges. Wild buffalo also feeds on crops like rice, sugarcane and jute.
Behavior: They generally live in groups and adult males form large herds containing 10 to 20 members. Each group has a home range of about 3.9 square kilometers, which contains water holes and grazing areas. Older males generally prefer to live in solitude.
Threats: The IUCN has listed Asiatic wild Buffalo as endangered. There are many reasons that are responsible for the declining population of this animal.
- Interbreeding with domestic buffalos makes this species of buffalo comparatively weaker.
- The hunting of wild buffalos in various countries for horns has led to the decline in population of this animal.
- Habitat loss due to expansion in agriculture ad hydel power projects is also another major cause.
- Wild Buffalos are also susceptible to Epidemic diseases spread by domestic buffalos.
- As water source is the main lifeline for wild buffalo, water scarcity in their living space has also led to their decreasing population.
- The invasion of exotic species of perennial plant Mikania sp. Has also led to the destruction of their grazing grass fields.
Conservation: The wild Buffalo has been largely protected in India. Cloning of female wild buffalo was also done in collaboration with National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Haryana. The hunting of wild buffalo should be strictly banned and the Indian Wildlife Protection Act should be strictly followed. Surveys should be done to in order to evaluate the exact population of this animal in various parts of India.