Water Buffalo

Water Buffalo

Domestic water buffalo

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Subfamily
Genus
SPECIES
Bubalus bubalis
Population size
172 mln
Life Span
25-29 yrs
WEIGHT
300-550 kg
HEIGHT
120-133 cm
LENGTH
240-300 cm

The Water buffalo or domestic water buffalo is a large bovid native to the Indian subcontinent and China. There are two types of domestic water buffalo - the River buffalo and the Swamp buffalo. The skin of River buffalo is black, but some specimens may have dark, slate-colored skin. Swamp buffalo have a grey skin at birth but become slate blue later. Albinoids are present in some populations. River buffalo have comparatively longer faces, smaller girths, and bigger limbs than swamp buffalo. Their dorsal ridges extend further back and taper off more gradually. Their horns grow downward and backward, then curve upward in a spiral. Swamp buffalo are heavy-bodied and stockily built; their body is short and the belly is large. The forehead is flat, the eyes are prominent, the face is short, and the muzzle is wide. The neck is comparatively long, and the withers and croup are prominent. A dorsal ridge extends backward and ends abruptly just before the end of the chest. Their horns grow outward and curve in a semicircle, but always remain more or less on the plane of the forehead. The tail is short, reaching only to the hocks.

Di

Diurnal

No

Nocturnal

He

Herbivore

Gr

Graminivore

Fo

Folivore

Te

Terrestrial

Pr

Precocial

Gr

Grazing

Vi

Viviparous

Po

Polygyny

So

Social

He

Herding

Do

Dominance hierarchy

No

Not a migrant

Do

Domesticated

W

starts with

Distribution

Geography

Water buffalo originate in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and China. Today, they are also found in Europe, Australia, North America, South America, and some African countries. River buffalo occur in the Indian subcontinent and further west to the Balkans, Egypt, and Italy, and Swamp buffalo are found from Assam in the west through Southeast Asia to the Yangtze valley of China in the east. Water buffalo inhabit tropical forests and wet grasslands, riverine forests, marshes, swamps. As their name suggests they require an environment with adequate water for wallowing and drinking. Some breeds are adapted to saline seaside shores and saline sandy terrain.

Water Buffalo habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Water buffalo are terrestrial animals but are very dependent on water. They spend most of their time wallowing in rivers or mud holes. River buffalo prefer deep water while Swamp buffalo prefer to wallow in mudholes which they make with their horns. During wallowing, they acquire a thick coating of mud that protects the buffalo skin from sunburn and biting insects and also keeps them cool. Water buffalo are social and live in herds of up to 30 individuals. Herds usually consist of adult females, their calves, and sub-adult females. Young males leave female herds when they are around 3 years old and form bachelor herds. Water buffalo are both diurnal and nocturnal. They usually feed in the morning and evening. During the midday heat, they rest in the shade, wallow in mud holes, or stay submerged in water with only their nostrils and eyes exposed. During floods, they graze submerged, raising their heads above the water and carrying quantities of edible plants. Water buffalo communicate with each other with the help of snorts and grunts. Males also stamp on the ground to show dominance or as a means of defense.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Water buffalo are herbivores. They feed on aquatic plants, grasses, reeds, herbs, leaves and other vegetation.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
year-round
PREGNANCY DURATION
300-320 days
BABY CARRYING
1 calf
INDEPENDENT AGE
6-9 months
FEMALE NAME
cow
MALE NAME
bull
BABY NAME
calf

Water buffalo have a polygynous mating system in which males breed with more than one female. They generally breed year-round. Females usually give birth to a single calf every two years. The gestation period lasts 300-320 days. Calves are born red to brown in color and weigh 35 to 40 kg. Females protect and nurse their calves from 6 to 9 months. At the age of 3 young males become reproductively mature and disperse. Young females remain in the herd where they were born and reach reproductive maturity when they are 1,5 years old.

Population number

According to Wikipedia resource, the total population of Water buffalo in 2011 was about 172 million individuals.

Ecological niche

Water buffalo have a herbivorous diet and feed on various vegetation. Some of these plants are of great value to local people but others are a major problem in some tropical valleys and Water buffalo may help to keep waterways clear.

Domestication

Water buffalo were domesticated in the Indian subcontinent about 5000 years ago, and in China about 4000 years ago. At least 130 million domestic water buffalo exist, and more people depend on them than on any other domestic animal. They are especially suitable for tilling rice fields, and their milk is richer in fat and protein than that of dairy cattle. The husbandry system of Water buffalo depends on the purpose for which they are bred and maintained. Most of them are kept by people who work on small farms in family units. Their buffalo live in close association with them and are often their greatest capital asset. The women and girls in India generally look after the milking buffalo while the men and boys are concerned with the working animals. Throughout Asia, they are commonly tended by children who are often seen leading or riding their charges to wallowing places. Water buffalo are the ideal animals for work in the deep mud of paddy fields because of their large hooves and flexible foot joints. They are often referred to as "the living tractor of the East". In most rice-producing countries, they are used for threshing and for transporting the sheaves during the rice harvest. They provide power for oilseed mills, sugarcane presses, and devices for raising water. They are widely used as pack animals, and in India and Pakistan also for heavy haulage. Their dung is used as a fertilizer, and as a fuel when dried. In India, river-type buffalo are kept mainly for milk production and for transport, whereas swamp-type buffalo are kept mainly for work and a small amount of milk.

DOMESTICATION STATUS Domesticated

References

1. Water Buffalo on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_buffalo

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