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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.