Buffalo (Latin name "Bovidae") is a variety of wild bulls, characterized by a large, short and thick head, widely divergent, somewhat horizontally compressed and bent back horns, always hanging ears, sparse hair, as well as wildness, force and evil, insubordinate temper . However, these species do not form a systematically closed group.
What it looks like
The real or Asian wild buffalo reaches 2.6 - 3 meters long and up to 2 meters high at the withers. The length of the tail is 50-60 centimeters. An average body weight is 900–1000 kilograms, some specimens weigh over 1200 kilograms. His body is covered with fine and sparse hair, so that wrinkled skin is visible. Its color is usually dark brown or blackish, less often whitish. The head is thick and broad, with a short muzzle and a large, prominent forehead. The nose is wide and bare, black. On the upper lip are long and tough hairs.
The horns of the Asian buffalo are flattened and wrinkled at the base, then they are rounded-triangular and bent back, turning up from the middle. Their tops are directed forward and outward. The length of the horns of the Asian buffalo reaches 2 meters. The ears are long and wide, outside covered with short, inside long hair. Located on the sides of the head horizontally. The eyes are small. The neck is short and wide. The tail is rather long, almost bare, on the end with a long tassel. The legs are of medium length, very strong.
Asian buffaloes in wild form live in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Thailand.
Asian wild buffaloes are very ferocious animals that can attack humans even for no apparent reason. A person should get closer to the buffalo, so that he is already on the alert and ready to attack. The greatest danger is represented by the two-meter horns of a buffalo, with which it rams the enemy. These animals always attack with a running start, and striking with their “weapons” try to throw the body up. Sometimes a single blow of an animal is enough for a person to lose his life. When the buffalo knocked down his enemy, he begins to trample him with his hooves.
The Asian buffalo has earned the title of one of the largest bulls of the world for good reason. With a body length of 3 m, it has a height of 1.80 - 2 m and a mass of 800 to 1200 kg. On the head of the animal adorn the magnificent flattened horns in the shape of a crescent - the pride of the animal. The distance between the ends of its horns reaches 1.90 m - 2 m, they grow to the sides and directed backwards.
The horns of their females are not so big, straight, sometimes they are not at all.
The extremities of the wild individuals are high and strong, their tail is about 90 cm in length, the body is covered with coarse, sparse, black hair with brown tint.
Although the domesticated version of this buffalo does not look so terrifying, it is much smaller than its wild cousin, and its horns are sawn for the safety of its owners.
Also small representatives of the species - Tamarau and Anoa. The former rise to 106 cm and weigh up to 300 kg, while the latter grow to 80 cm and 300 kg, respectively.
Temper and habits
Being veiled justifies character: water buffalo is fierce. Perfectly fights, bravely speaking out against predators, in a fight it can calmly stand against even a tiger. Buffaloes are especially dangerous in the herd.
Aggression is characterized by very old buffaloes who left the herd. They tend to divert domesticated females, and in the event of persecution they begin to attack, incl. and man.
Livestock is more peaceful and docile.
For water buffaloes are going to herd. It is usually few in number:
- adult bull
- a couple of young buffaloes
- cows with calves.
The smallest are placed in the middle, in front of those who are older, behind are young bulls. There is no strict submission in the herd. His oldest member can even roam nearby: he returns those who have fallen behind.
Interesting is the behavior of these animals in case of danger: all together, the buffalo hides in the thickets or makes a semicircle, in order to then hunt down the beast that attacked the track they left.
Oddly enough, buffaloes make friends with rhinos, but they hate the tiger.
The water buffalo lives in Nepal, Thailand, India, Laos, Cambodia, on Fr. Ceylon and Bhutan. But there were times when this animal lived in other parts of our Earth: North Africa, Middle China, Mesopotamia.
Domestic buffaloes, of course, are more common throughout the world, their habitats - Australia, Japan, America (South and Central), East Africa, Transcaucasia, etc.
Another name for "Asian" - water buffalo - fully describes his preferences regarding locations. Nearby there must be wide ponds (rivers and swamps, including) that are needed for hornbills not only for drinking, but also for daily swimming. They also require plains densely overgrown with grass.
So, the water buffalo mostly lives near the water (whence its second name originated) with a moderate course. For him it is a necessity, he is an excellent swimmer, he can dive or go under the water, leaving only his head with gorgeous horns on the surface.
Thus, individuals easily tolerate high temperatures characteristic of their habitat areas.
They also love to fall out in the dirt, which, clinging to the whole body, dries directly on them. But they do this not because they are dirty, but because of the heat and insects. Flies, gadflies and other bloodsuckers have long adapted to arrange on their body, in their ears, nostrils, genitals, etc., for laying eggs.
Water bugs and birds also help them to get rid of pests: drag along, herons, etc.
These giants eat grass, incl. various underwater and coastal vegetation. In the dark they graze, and in the afternoon, satisfied, they are immersed in water.
Due to the fact that the wild Asian buffalo inhabits spaces that are of interest to people, the latter simply survive it. The development of steppes and forests by humanity leads to the fact that the water buffalo, tamarau, etc. simply disappears. Today, the livestock is under protection, enshrined at the legislative level, hunting is prohibited, special habitat zones are organized (Pabha, Kaziranga, etc.).
But not only the human factor influenced the decrease in the number of gobies. The fact is that wild individuals tend to mate with the tamed. Offspring after such a union can no longer be called a true wild "Asian".
General characteristics of the animal
The buffalo is a large animal, its weight can reach more than 1000 kg, however not all have such a mass. Speaking of growth, on average, this figure ranges from 1 to 1.5 m, while the limbs of the buffalo are not long, but powerful. Naturally, deviations from averages are acceptable, depending on the breed and habitat of the animal.
Interesting factthat the older the buffalo is, the more weight it gains. Males are traditionally more massive, they are heavier than females, which allows them to fight for themselves and their flock. The female weighs, on average, up to 600 kg, although some endemic species, such as anona, barely reach a weight of 300 kg.
A characteristic feature of buffaloes is the presence of horns. In the most common breed - the African buffalo - the horns are not too large, but they are also directed in different directions and have bends. Externally, the place of accretion of horns with a skull resembles a helmet. There are also such animal species, such as water buffalo, whose horns reach record levels: about 2 m in length. At the same time, they are not directed upwards, but also grow to the side, turning back at the end. There are also horny animals, but this is quite a rare phenomenon.
Where do buffaloes live
The buffalo is an animal that belongs to the genus of bulls, but with a peculiarity: their horns are hollow. It is worth saying that in Russia or in Ukraine to meet one individual, and even more so the family of buffaloes, is a rarity. This is explained by the fact that the natural habitat of the horned animal is a country with a hot climate, where there are no such severe winters.
Currently, four subspecies of this animal are distinguished:
- Endemic anoa or dwarf (small, small).
- Asian (another name Indian), common on the islands of Sulawesi.
- African buffalo (dwells in Africa and is the most common).
Naturally, the habitat will affect the wild animal, it will be most adapted to the native climate.
However, at present, the animal is protected by the law of many states, as their numbers are massively reduced. Some species, such as anoa, are forcedly placed in the Red Book, because the species is on the verge of extinction. Some people associate this with global warming, someone sees the reason that they are hunting for these animals, poaching.
African buffalo, or black buffalo (lat. Syncerus caffer) - a species of bull, widespread in Africa. Being a typical representative of the bull subfamily, the African buffalo, however, is quite peculiar and stands out in a separate genus Syncerus with a single species (it is also the only bull from the subfamily of bulls that lives in Africa).
Habitat and lifestyle
Already from the name of animals it is clear that they live on the African continent. But it is impossible to clearly define the territory that African bulls prefer. They can live equally well in forests, savannas and mountains. The main requirement for the area is the proximity of water. It is in the savannas that the Kafira, Senegalese and Nile buffaloes prefer to remain.
In the wild, large colonies of African buffalo can be found only in protected areas that are far from people. Animals do not trust them much and try to avoid them in every way, like any other threat. In this, they are greatly helped by a wonderful sense of smell and hearing, which cannot be said of vision, which can hardly be called ideal. Females with young offspring behave especially carefully.
The organization of the herd and its hierarchy deserve special attention. At the slightest danger, the calves move deep into the herd, and the most adult and experienced cover them up, forming a dense shield. Between themselves, they communicate through special signals and clearly define their future actions. In total, the herd can number from 20 to 30 individuals of different ages.
Despite the fact that African buffalo poses a great danger and very reluctant to make contact with people, the latter still managed to tame the giants, and successfully used in the household. The tribes use these animals as traction force, treating large areas for crops and other crops.
Also African buffalo are indispensable as cattle. They are grown for meat, and not always wait until the calf reaches its maximum weight. Females give milk of excellent quality, containing a large amount of fat. It is used to make hard and soft cheese, like cheese, and they just drink it.
After slaughtering the African buffalo, in addition to meat, a lot of useful things also remain. For example, the skin can be used as a litter, decoration, or use it for tailoring. Now the interior is decorated with massive horns, and earlier they were used to make primitive tools for working the garden. Even bones go into the business - they are hardened in the oven and milled; they are used as fertilizer and feed additive for other pets.
Population status and threats
The African buffalo did not avoid the common fate of large African ungulates, which were severely knocked out in the XIX - first half of the XX century due to the uncontrolled shooting. However, the buffalo population has suffered significantly less than, for example, elephants - possibly because with the complexity and danger of hunting, the buffalo does not represent commercial value (unlike the same elephant with valuable tusks or a rhinoceros valuable horn). Therefore, the number of buffalo remained quite high. Much greater devastation among the buffaloes made an epizootic of cattle plague brought to Africa at the end of the 19th century with livestock of white settlers. The first outbreaks of this disease among buffaloes were noted in 1890.
The buffalo at the present time, although it has disappeared in many places of its former habitat, is still numerous in places. The total number of buffaloes of all subspecies in Africa is estimated at about a million heads. The state of the population, according to the estimates of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, “is under a small threat, but depends on conservation measures” (lower risk, conservation dependent).
In a number of places in Africa, stable and resilient buffalo populations live in protected areas. Many buffalo in such famous reserves as the Serengeti and Ngorongoro (Tanzania) and the National Park. Kruger (South Africa). Large herds of buffalo are found in Zambia, in reserves in the valley of the Luangwa River.
Outside the nature reserves, a serious threat to the buffalo is habitat destruction. Buffaloes absolutely do not tolerate the cultural landscape and try to stay away from agricultural land, so plowing and land development, inevitable with the constant growth of the African population, have a very negative impact on the number of buffaloes.
Many buffaloes are found in zoos around the world. They reproduce well in captivity, but their content is rather difficult - the buffaloes in the zoo are sometimes very aggressive. Cases have been noted where buffalo brawls resulted in death in the zoo.
The Asian buffalo, or water buffalo (lat. Bubalus arnee) is a hoofed mammal of the horned family. One of the biggest bulls. Adults reach a length of more than 3 meters. The height at withers reaches 2 m, and the weight can reach 1000 kg, in some cases up to 1200, on average, the adult male weighs about 900 kg. The horns reach 2 m, they are directed to the sides and back and have a semi-lunar shape and a flattened section. The cows have small or absent horns.
Despite the fact that the species of water buffalo includes at least 6 subspecies, they all share similar features of appearance. Some of them are horns. The long ones, which grow slightly backward, smoothly curve upwards and represent a serious weapon, equally dangerous for predators and humans, as well as for other animals.
In buffalo cows, the horns are not as prominent as the bulls, differ in shape - they are not curved, but straight. Sexual dimorphism is also manifested in dimensional indicators - the females are much smaller.
The Indian bull, with the exception of the dwarf variety, reaches a height of about 2 meters. Adult buffalo weigh up to 900 kg on average. There are some individuals weighing up to 1200 kg. The length of the barrel-shaped body is about 3-4 meters. In comparison with other buffaloes, Indian bulls have relatively high legs. Representatives of the species have a long (up to 90 cm), massive tail.
In addition to the large size of the body, nature has rewarded the Indian buffaloes with a decent long life, reaching up to 26 years in natural conditions.
Areal and species conservation problems
Wild Asian buffaloes live in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, as well as in Ceylon. Back in the middle of the 20th century, buffaloes were found in Malaysia, but now, apparently, there are no wild animals left. On the island of Mindoro (Philippines) in a special nature reserve Iglite lived a special, dwarf subspecies, called tamarau (V. b. Mindorensis). This subspecies has apparently died out.
But the historical area of settlement of the buffalo is huge. At the beginning of the first millennium n. e. water buffalo met on a vast territory from Mesopotamia to southern China.
In most places, buffaloes now live in strictly protected areas, where they are accustomed to man and are no longer wild in the strict sense of the word. Indian buffalo was also introduced in Australia in the 19th century and was widely settled in the north of the continent.
In Asian countries, the habitat and abundance of water buffalo are constantly decreasing. The main reason for this is not hunting, which, as a rule, is limited and conducted according to strict quotas, but habitat destruction, plowing and settlement of deaf territories. Places where wild buffalo can live in a natural environment are becoming less and less. In fact, now in India and Sri Lanka, the wild buffalo habitat is completely tied to national parks (the famous Kaziranga National Park in the Indian state of Assam has a herd of buffalo more than a thousand heads). The situation in Nepal and Bhutan is not much better.
Another serious problem is the constant crossing of wild buffaloes with domestic ones, which is why the wild species gradually loses its purity of blood. But it is extremely difficult to avoid this, because almost everywhere wild buffaloes have to live in the vicinity of people and, accordingly, domestic buffaloes kept on free grazing.
Lifestyle and behavior
For the Indian buffaloes the herd way of life is typical. Small groups are formed from the leader - the oldest bull, several young males, as well as calves and cows. When a threat appears, the herd tries to get away from its pursuers as soon as possible. Однако затем животные перегруппировываются и ожидают врагов для лобовой атаки, причем часто на своих же следах. В любой ситуации старшие животные пытаются защитить молодняк.
Индийский буйвол в природе связывает свою жизнь со стоячей водой: озерами или болотами, в крайнем случае, он соглашается на реки с медленным течением.
Водоемы играют важную роль:
- Являются источником питания. Up to 70% of the total volume of vegetation consumed grows in water. The rest of the buffalo is eaten in the coastal zone.
- Help Indian bulls cope with the heat of the day. As a rule, buffaloes allocate late evening or early morning to search for food. During the day, animals do not leave the coastal mud or are immersed in water. The only part of the body that remains in the air is the head.
- Turtles live in the water, and there are always a lot of birds nearby, in particular, white herons. They help water buffalo to cope with parasites. Those insects that are not reached by constant satellites of bulls, die in the water.
At the same time Indian bulls themselves are one of the indispensable sources of the reproduction of natural resources. The manure they produce contributes to the replenishment of nutrients and supports the intensive growth of green mass.
Small island buffalo
In the Philippines, more precisely, on the small island of Mindoro, there lives a small dwarf buffalo tamarou. Its height is only 110 cm, body length is 2-3 meters, and weight is 180-300 kg. In appearance, it is more like an antelope than a buffalo. The horns of the tamarou buffalo are flat, curved back, the length of each is about 40 cm. They form a triangle at the base. The coat is thin, black or chocolate, sometimes gray.
Even 100-150 years ago, the places where the tamarou buffalo lived were not crowded. On the island of Mindoro there was a very dangerous strain of malaria, he was afraid to learn. Animals could easily walk through the tropical thickets without fear, because there are no large predators on the island, and tamarou there is the largest species. But they learned how to fight malaria, the island began to be actively settled, which led to a sharp decrease in the population. Now in the world there are no more than 100-200 individuals of this species, it is listed in the Red Book.
Another small buffalo lives on the island of Sulawesi. It is called anoa, even smaller in size than a tamarou. Anoa growth is only 80 cm, and the length of the body is 160 cm. Females weigh about 150 kg, males reach 300 kg. There is almost no wool on their body, their skin color is black. Calves are born almost red. There are two varieties of this buffalo: mountain and plain buffalo anoa. In the plain, the ano- straight horns with a triangular cut, about 25 cm long. In the mountainous anoa, they are twisted and round.
A small island buffalo has a life expectancy of about 20 years, which is significantly longer than that of other species. Anoa is now extremely rare. Despite the fact that they are protected in Indonesia, animals often become victims of poachers. Everywhere, where a person appears, the active development of the territory begins.
Sulawesi is one of the most densely populated islands, because there is less and less space for Anoa, which does not have the best effect on the population. Perhaps soon this view can be seen only in the photo and video.
Asian or water buffalo
At the moment, the situation in which the Asian buffalo found itself looks rather pitiable. The fact is that he is on the verge of extinction, largely due to the fact that wild individuals actively mate with domesticated ones. As a result, blood is mixed and the water buffalo degenerates as a species. But it is not too late to correct the situation, because there are quite a few reserves, where “Asians” are artificially bred. Yes, and in some countries there are safe places in natural conditions.
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Asian, water buffalo.Characteristics
It is one of the largest representatives of its kind. Adult bulls can grow about 3 meters long, about 2 meters high at the withers. On average, a bull weighs 900-950 kg, but there have been such cases that the carcass weight reached 11,200 kg. A male of this kind has large black horns, about 2 meters long. It happens that females also have horns, but usually they are small in comparison with the male. The body of the animal is covered with stiff black hair.
Water buffalo is most common as a pet, less and less wild. Every self-respected hunter wants to hang in his house the horns of this water buffalo. Hunting a large male bull is real reward for the hunter. Since there are not so many wild specimens, hunting for them is prohibited, but there are such countries-Australia, where hunting with restriction, but allowed. In such a country, this animal is a predatory, aggressive, powerful beast, if we compare this huge predatory animal in a fight with a tiger, then we can safely assure that the bull will win.
The gestation period of a cow lasts on average from 300 to 330 days, after which the childbirth begins and the female is able to give birth to only one calf. In a calf, the feeding period is about 6 to 9 months.
Most spread out The habitat of the animal is South Asia, in countries such as:
The exploitation of these huge bulls is mainly in the household. Since ancient times, we know that people widely used the animal in the household. At this point in time, these animals were delivered in different countries to serve humanity:
- Central America
- South America
- Madagascar Island
- Southern Europe
- Ukraine (Transcarpathian and Lviv regions)
It makes them less wild, that they live on protected lands, where they get used to people. For such an animal is very important conditions of his stay. So at this stage of time, their numbers are reduced, and the hunt is nothing to do with it, it all happens because of the inconsistency of the environment for their existence.
Asian Buffalo in the household
We can distinguish a domestic buffalo from a wild one by build, short horns, and a soft character. A wild male has a more toned body than a domestic one. The usefulness of these animals is that they are good. traction force. Often they are used in irrigation fields or any other treatment. so you can remember from fairy tales or cartoons as the Cossacks transported salt in bags with the help of such buffalo bulls. They walked slowly but firmly and could walk long distances. Therefore, these animals are valued in the tropics.
These animals are beneficial not only for work on agricultural land, but also in the food industry too. Buffalo is referred to dairy cattle. Although the productivity of milk is several times lower than that of cows. Buffalo milk is considered exotic. It has a high percentage of fat, very high in calories, about 110 kcal. and it is also nutritious, has a high nutritional value in comparison with cow's milk. It tastes pleasant, has a white color and a characteristic smell.
Buffalo milk chemical composition resembles female breast milk. Buffalo milk is widely popular in the countries of South Asia. Since in India the cow is a sacred animal, the population of buffalo exceeds the cows. The largest farm of these animals is also located there.
As we already wrote from this milk they do not only high quality cheese, but also used in whole form, is added to tea or coffee and even make butter, the shelf life of which exceeds all shelf life of butter from cow's milk.
Also nowadays, amusements are widespread, which include home buffalo fights. Long before the competition, buffaloes are fattened and prepared for battle. Each owner takes his bull to the arena and leaves him there. The bulls begin to butt until one person escapes from the field or lies on his hooves as a sign of defeat. Usually such a sight arrange for tourists.
Who is bigger: water buffalo or African
Another large and strong bull is the African, which is not much inferior to its Asian congener:
- slightly shorter - 180 cm at the withers,
- weight - up to 1300 kg
- the scope of the horns is 190 cm.
Area of distribution and habitat
The name "Indian" and "Asian" gives out the territorial affiliation of the buffalo. These large mammals are found in the following areas:
- in Ceylon,
- in some regions of India,
- in Thailand,
Lifestyle, temper and habits
Despite their power and strength, buffaloes are cautious and prudent animals and avoid unnecessary contact with people. If human settlements are close by, bulls change their way of life to nightlife. The name "water buffalo" speaks of their habitat. Here are some of their habits:
- Most of his life the bull spends in the waters, which are his native element: in rivers, swamps, lakes, ponds. The animal loves to submerge almost completely into the water, leaving only the head with its majestic horns on the surface. This is a good way to escape the heat and the parasites.
- On land, it prefers to be in deciduous and evergreen forests with sparse stand, without dense thickets, where water bodies are located nearby.
- In open areas, animals rarely appear, only in search of food.
- In mountainous terrain, buffaloes can rise to an altitude of over 2500 meters.
- Animals live in herds of 10–12 heads: 1–2 males, 4–6 females with cubs and grown young. It is also possible to combine family herds in large groups.
- The head of the herd is usually the oldest and most experienced buffalo: during the movement she can be in front as a leader or close the retreat.
- The female leader warns the herd about the threat of a piercing snort, after which her wards should stop and stand still.
- After the danger has been determined, the buffaloes will occupy the battle order, but they will never attack first: they treat other animals peaceably and do not like to enter into conflicts, but prefer to quietly retire to the thicket of the forest.
- If the conflict could not be avoided, then the bull can attack the uninvited guest in a special way: by striking one horn, he is able to throw the enemy back a considerable distance.
- Elderly buffaloes usually live like hermits due to the fact that closer to old age their character deteriorates significantly and they become more aggressive than young individuals. Sometimes there have been cases of elderly lonely buffalo attacking people.
What do buffaloes eat in the wild?
In addition, water reservoirs help buffaloes to withstand high temperatures, they are also a source of food for them: up to 70% of the food of buffaloes is in the water, the rest are on the shore. The water buffalo diet includes:
- grass of meadows and fields
- plant leaves
- young shoots
- bamboo sprouts,
- shrub greens
- marsh grasses.
Below we provide information related to the principles of reproduction of the Asian buffalo:
- The Indian bull in its natural habitat does not have a specific season for rutting and calving. But most often it occurs from the end of autumn to the middle of spring (November – April). This is due to the fact that animals live in warm climatic conditions and are able to conceive at different times of the year.
- The sexual maturity of animals occurs in two or three years.
- During the rut period, young single males form a temporary herd. The male makes a loud summoning sound, similar to the roar of a deer, which is heard within a radius of one to two kilometers.
- Males arrange fights, during which they demonstrate their strength, but do not cause serious injuries to each other.
- A female ready for mating spreads a special smell that attracts males and gives them a signal to mate. After that, it is impregnated by a male who has achieved location.
- Water buffalo pregnancy occurs for 9–10 months.
- With the onset of labor, the buffalo retires into the undergrowth, and the two together with the baby return to the herd.
- Usually, a female has one fluffy calf with a red color and a weight of 40 to 50 kg, which the mother carefully licks and lifts on legs.
- The calf is with mother for 6–9 months, all the while feeding on its milk. At the end of this period, the baby partially switches to independent feeding, although the mother continues to feed him until one year of age.
- During the 3-year period, male calves are kept in the parent herd, and after that they establish their family flocks. Females remain in the maternal herd for life.
- Each female is settled once every two years.
Population and conservation status
Today, for the most part, water buffaloes reside in human protected areas. In India, the habitats of wild bulls are completely tied to parks of national importance (for example, Kaziranga National Park in Assam), where hunting is strictly regulated. The same situation has developed on the island of Ceylon. In the countries of Bhutan and Nepal, the number and range of the Indian bull are constantly decreasing. The reason for this - the reduction of the area of the natural habitat due to human activity. Another serious threat to the existence of water buffalo is their constant crossing with their domestic counterparts, which leads to a loss of purity of the gene pool. In conclusion, we emphasize that today the population of these magnificent animals is preserved thanks to their successful reproduction and the conservation efforts of humans.