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  Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2018


Wild Water Buffalo
Fig 1
ゥ  Celine Low
Fig 2
ゥ  Celine Low
Fig 3











Family : Bovidae
Species : Buvalus arnee

Shoulder Height : up to 1.9 metres
Tail : up to 85 cm
Weight : up to 1200 kg

The Wild Water Buffalo or Asian Buffalo Buvalus arnee is the ancestor of the Domestic Water Buffalo Bubalus bubalis. While the latter is common throughout much of Southeast Asia, the Wild Water Buffalo is becoming increasingly rare. Globally there are probably less than 4000 left.

The species is typically found near water bodies such as open rivers, swamps and seasonal lakes, often spending much of the day wallowing in muddy water.

Wild Water Buffalo have the largest horns of any species of wild cattle, the spread of which can reach up to 2 metres (i.e. the distance between the curved outer edge of the two horns). Both sexes possess these huge horns, which are the easiest criteria to differentiate the species from the Domestic Water Buffalo.

Large males may weigh up to an impressive 1200 kg. Their skin colour is grey, generally darker on the head and lighter on the body.

They graze on a variety of grasses and sedges, and reportedly will also consume some fruits, leaves and tree bark.

In Southeast Asia the Wild Water Buffalo is still to be found in parts of Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, though populations are highly fragmented. In South Asia they still occur in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

In addition to the threats of hunting and habitat loss, perhaps an even greater threat to this species is the loss of genetic identity as a result of interbreeding with Domestic Water Buffalo.

Fig 1 : Wild Water Buffalo wallowing in a muddy pool at Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India.  Photo thanks to Celine Low

Fig 2 : Adult Wild Water Buffalo with two calves in dry grassland at Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India.  Photo thanks to Celine Low

Fig 3 : For comparison, a pair of Domestic Water Buffalo Bubalus bubalis on the banks of the Tembeling River near Taman Negara, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia.

References : M8