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Water buffalo

Water buffalo
Female water buffalo and calf
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Tribe: Bovini
Genus: Bubalus
Species: B. bubalis
Binomial name
Bubalus bubalis
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • river buffalo
  • swamp buffalo
Global distribution of buffaloes in 2004

The water buffalo or domestic Asian water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) is a large bovid found on the Indian subcontinent to Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia, in Sri Lanka, in the Philippines, and in Borneo.[1]

The wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) native to Southeast Asia is considered a different species but most likely represents the ancestor of the domestic water buffalo.[2]

Two extant types of water buffalo are recognized based on morphological and behavioural criteria – the river buffalo of the Indian subcontinent and further west to the Balkans, Egypt and Italy, and the swamp buffalo, found from Assam in the west through Southeast Asia to the Yangtze valley of China in the east.[1][3] The origins of the domestic water buffalo types are debated, although results of a phylogenetic study indicate that the swamp type may have originated in China and domesticated about 4,000 years ago, while the river type may have originated from India and was domesticated about 5,000 years ago.[4]

Water buffaloes are especially suitable for tilling rice fields, and their milk is richer in fat and protein than that of the dairy cow. The large feral population of northern Australia became established in the late 19th century, and there are smaller feral herds in New Guinea, Tunisia and northeastern Argentina.[1] There are at least 130 million domestic water buffalo, and more human beings depend on them than on any other domestic animal.[5]


  • Characteristics 1
  • Ecology and behavior 2
    • Diet 2.1
    • Reproduction 2.2
  • Taxonomic history 3
  • Domestication and breeding 4
  • Distribution of populations 5
    • In Asia 5.1
    • In Europe and the Mediterranean 5.2
    • In Australia 5.3
    • In South America 5.4
    • In North America 5.5
  • Husbandry 6
    • Dairy products 6.1
    • Meat and skin products 6.2
    • Bone and horn products 6.3
  • Environmental effects 7
  • Research 8
  • In culture 9
    • Fighting festivals 9.1
    • Racing festivals 9.2
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13


A water buffalo in Thailand
An albino swamp buffalo in Chiang Mai province, Thailand

The skin of river buffaloes is black, but some specimens may have dark slate-coloured skin. Swamp buffaloes have a grey skin at birth but become slate blue later. Albinoids are present in some populations. River buffaloes have comparatively longer faces, smaller girth and bigger limbs than swamp buffaloes. The dorsal ridge extends further back and tapers off more gradually. Their horns grow downward and backward, then curve upward in a spiral. Swamp buffaloes are heavy-bodied and stockily built, the body is short and the belly large. The forehead is flat, the eyes prominent, the face short and the muzzle wide. The neck is comparatively long, 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. Height at withers is 129–133 cm (51–52 in) for males, and 120–127 cm (47–50 in) for females. They range in weight from 300–550 kg (660–1,210 lb), but weights of over 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) have also been observed.[1]

Tedong bonga is a black pied buffalo featuring a unique black and white colouration that is favoured by the Toraja of Sulawesi.[6]

The swamp buffalo has 48 chromosomes; the river buffalo has 50 chromosomes. The two types do not readily interbreed, but fertile offspring can occur. Buffalo-cattle hybrids have not been observed to occur, and the embryos of such hybrids do not reach maturity in laboratory experiments.[7]

The rumen of the water buffalo has important differences from that of other ruminants.[8] It contains a larger population of bacteria, particularly the cellulolytic bacteria, lower protozoa and higher fungi zoospores. In addition, higher rumen ammonia nitrogen (NH4-N) and higher pH have been found as compared to those in cattle.[9]

Ecology and behavior

Water buffalo enjoy being in water.
Water buffalo wallowing in mud

River buffaloes prefer deep water. Swamp buffaloes prefer to [10]


Water buffaloes thrive on many aquatic plants and during floods, will graze submerged, raising their heads above the water and carrying quantities of edible plants. They eat reeds (quassab), a giant reed (birdi), a kind of bulrush (kaulan), water hyacinth and marsh grasses. Some of these plants are of great value to local peoples. Others, such as water hyacinth, are a major problem in some tropical valleys, and water buffaloes may help to keep waterways clear.

Green fodders are used widely for intensive milk production and for fattening. Many fodder crops are conserved as hay, chaffed or pulped. Fodders include soybean, sugarcane, bagasse and turnips. Citrus pulp and pineapple wastes have been fed safely to buffaloes. In Egypt, whole sun-dried dates are fed to milk-buffaloes up to 25% of the standard feed mixture.[1]


A water buffalo calf in India

Swamp buffaloes generally become reproductive at an older age than river breeds. Young males in Egypt, India and Pakistan are first mated at about 3–3.5 years of age but in Italy they may be used as early as 2 years of age. Successful mating behaviour may continue until the animal is 12 years or even older. A good river male can impregnate 100 females in a year. There is a strong seasonal influence on mating. Heat stress reduces libido.[1]

Although buffaloes are polyoestrus, their reproductive efficiency shows wide variation throughout the year. Buffalo cows exhibit a distinct seasonal change in displaying oestrus, conception rate and calving rate.[11] The age at first oestrus of heifers varies between breeds from 13–33 months but mating at the first oestrus is often infertile and usually deferred until they are 3 years old. Gestation lasts from 281–334 days, but most reports give a range of between 300 and 320 days. Swamp buffaloes carry their calves for one or two weeks longer than river buffaloes. It is not rare to find buffaloes that continue to work well at the age of 30, and there are recorded instances of a working life of 40 years.[1]

Taxonomic history

Carl Linnaeus first described the genus Bos and the water buffalo under the binomial Bubalis bubalus in 1758; the latter was known to occur in Asia and as a domestic form in Italy.[12] Ellerman and Morrison-Scott treated the wild and domestic forms of the water buffalo as conspecifics[13] whereas others treated them as different species.[14] The nomenclatorial treatment of wild and domestic forms has been inconsistent and varies between authors and even within the works of single authors.[15]

In March 2003, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature achieved consistency in the naming of wild and domestic water buffaloes by ruling that the scientific name Bubalus arnee is valid for the wild form.[16] Bubalus bubalis continues to be valid for the domestic form and applies also to feral populations.[17]

Domestication and breeding

Murrah buffaloes at the Philippine Carabao Center

Water buffaloes were [10]

Results of mitochondrial DNA analyses indicate that the two types were domesticated independently.[20] Sequencing of cytochrome b genes of Bubalus species implies that the domestic buffalo originated from at least two populations, and that the river and the swamp types have differentiated at the full species level. The genetic distance between the two types is so large that a divergence time of about 1.7 million years has been suggested. The swamp type was noticed to have the closest relationship with the tamaraw.[21]

Distribution of populations

Carabao buffalo in the Philippines

The water buffalo population in the world is about 172 million.[22]

In Asia

Carabao cart in the Philippines in 1899

More than 95.8% of the world population of water buffaloes are found in Asia including both river and swamp types.[10] The water buffalo population in India numbered over 97.9 million head in 2003 representing 56.5% of the world population. They are primarily of the river type with 10 well-defined breeds comprising Badhawari, Murrah, Nili-Ravi, Jafarabadi, Marathwada, Mehsana, Nagpuri, Pandharpuri, Toda and Surti. Swamp buffaloes occur only in small areas in the north-eastern part of the country and are not distinguished into breeds.[23]

In 2003, the second largest population lived in [10]

The water buffalo is the main dairy animal in Pakistan with 23.47 million head in 2010.[24] Of these, 76% are kept in the Punjab. Breeds comprise Nili-Ravi, Kundi and Azi Kheli.[25] Karachi has the largest population of water buffalos for an area where fodder is not grown, consisting of 350,000 head kept mainly for milking.

In Thailand, the number of water buffalo dropped from more than 3 million heads in 1996 to less than 1.24 million heads in 2011.[26] Slightly over 75% of them are kept in the country's northeastern region. The statistics also indicate that by the beginning of 2012, there were less than one million in the country, partly as a result of illegal shipments to neighboring countries where sales prices are higher than in Thailand.

In Europe and the Mediterranean

It is generally considered that water buffaloes were introduced to Europe from India or other Oriental countries. To Italy they were introduced about the year 600 in the reign of the Longobardian King Agilulf. As they appear in the company of wild horses, it seems probable that they were a present from the Khan of the Avars, a Turkish nomadic tribe that dwelt near the Danube River at the time. Sir H. Johnston knew of a herd of water buffaloes presented by a King of Naples to the Bey of Tunis in the mid 19th century that had resumed the feral state in northern Tunis.[27]

European buffaloes are all of the river type and considered to be of the same breed named Mediterranean buffalo. In [10] Populations in Turkey are of the Anatolian buffalo breed.[19]

In Australia

A feral water buffalo in Australia

Between 1824 and 1849, water buffalos were introduced into the Northern Territory from Timor, Kisar and probably other islands in the Indonesian archipelago. In 1886, a few milking types were brought from India to Darwin. They have been the main grazing animals on the sub-coastal plains and river basins between Darwin and Arnhem Land since the 1880s. In the early 1960s, an estimated population of 150,000 to 200,000 buffalos were living in the plains and nearby areas.[28]

They became feral and are causing significant environmental damage. Buffalo are also found in the Top End. As a result, they were hunted in the Top End from 1885 until 1980. The commencement of the Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Campaign (BTEC) resulted in a huge culling program to reduce buffalo herds to a fraction of the numbers that were reached in the 1980s. The BTEC was finished when the Northern Territory was declared free of the disease in 1997. Numbers dropped dramatically as a result of the campaign, but have since recovered to an estimated 150,000 animals across northern Australia in 2008.[29]

During the 1950s, buffalo were hunted for their skins and meat, which was exported and used in the local trade. In the late 1970s, live exports were made to Cuba and continued later into other countries. Buffalo are now crossed with riverine buffalo in artificial breeding (AI) programs, and may be found in many areas of Australia. Some of these crossbreds are used for milk production. Melville Island is a popular hunting location, where a steady population of up to 4,000 individuals exist. Safari outfits are run out of Darwin to Melville Island and other locations in the Top End, often with the use of bush pilots. The horns, which can measure up to a record of 3.1 m (10 ft) tip-to-tip, are prized hunting trophies.[30]

The buffalo have developed a different appearance from the Indonesian buffalo from which they descend. They live mainly in freshwater marshes and billabongs, and their territory range can be quite expansive during the wet season. Their only natural predators in Australia are large adult saltwater crocodiles, with whom they share the billabongs, and dingoes, which have been known to prey on buffalo calves and occasionally adult buffalos when the dingoes are in large packs.

Buffalos were exported live to Indonesia until 2011, at a rate of about 3000 per year. After the live export ban that year, the exports dropped to zero, and had not resumed as of June 2013.[31]

In South America

Murrah buffalo in a Brazilian Farm

Water buffalo were introduced into the Amazon River basin in 1895. They are now extensively used there for meat and dairy production. In 2005, the buffalo herd in the Brazilian Amazon stood at approximately 1.6 million head, of which approximately 460,000 were located in the lower Amazon floodplain.[32] Breeds used include Mediterranean from Italy, Murrah and Jafarabadi from India, and Carabao from the Philippines.

In Argentina, many game ranches raise water buffalo for commercial hunting.

In North America

There are very limited commercial herds in the USA, for yogurt and cheese products. In Gainesville, Florida, a University of Florida professor, Hugh Popenoe, until recently (2011) had raised water buffalo from young obtained from zoo overflow. He used them primarily for meat production (frequently sold as hamburger), although other local ranchers use them for production of high-quality mozzarella cheese.[33]


Water buffalo ploughing rice fields in Java, Indonesia
Water buffalo are used for ploughing in Si Phan Don, Laos.
Water buffalo dung is dried against the façade of a house in Yuanyang County, Yunnan, China

The husbandry system of water buffaloes 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 buffaloes live in very close association with them, and are often their greatest capital asset. The women and girls in India generally look after the milking buffaloes 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 buffaloes are the ideal animals for work in the deep mud of paddy fields because of their large hoofs and flexible foot joints. They are often referred to as “the living tractor of the East”. It is generally accepted that it is possible to plough deeper with buffaloes than with either oxen or horses. They are the most efficient and economic means of cultivation of small fields. 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. In their invasions of Europe, the Turks used buffaloes for hauling heavy battering rams. Their dung is used as a fertilizer, and as a fuel when dried.[1]

Buffaloes contribute 72 million tones of milk and three million tones of meat annually to world food, much of it in areas that are prone to nutritional imbalances. In India river type buffaloes are kept mainly for milk production and for transport, whereas swamp type buffaloes are kept mainly for work and a very small amount of milk.[23]

Dairy products

Dairy products of water buffalo milk

Water buffalo milk presents physicochemical features different from that of other ruminant species, such as a higher content of fatty acids and proteins.[34] The physical and chemical parameters of swamp and river type water buffalo milk differs.[35] Water buffalo milk contains higher levels of total solids, crude protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus and slightly higher content of lactose compared with those of cow milk. The high level of total solids makes water buffalo milk ideal for processing into value added dairy products such as cheese. The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content in milk ranged from 4.4 mg/g fat in September to 7.6 mg/g fat in June. Seasons and genetics may play a role in variation of CLA level and changes in gross composition of the water buffalo milk.[36]

Water buffalo milk is processed into a large variety of dairy products:[37]

Top ten buffalo milk producers — 11 June 2008[39]
Country Production (tonnes) Footnote
 India 56,960,000 Unofficial, Semi-official, mirror data
 Pakistan 21,500,000 official figure
 People's Republic of China 2,900,000 FAO estimate
 Egypt 2,300,000 FAO estimate
   Nepal 930,000 FAO estimate
 Iran 241,500 FAO estimate
 Burma 205,000 FAO estimate
 Italy 200,000 FAO estimate
 Turkey 35,100 FAO estimate
 Vietnam 31,000 FAO estimate
 World 85 396 902

Meat and skin products

Water buffalo meat, sometimes called "carabeef", is often passed off as beef in certain regions, and is also a major source of export revenue for India. In many Asian regions, buffalo meat is less preferred due to its toughness; however, recipes have evolved (rendang, for example) where the slow cooking process and spices not only makes the meat palatable, but also preserves it, an important factor in hot climates where refrigeration is not always available.

Their hide provides tough and useful leather, often used for shoes and motorcycle helmets.

Bone and horn products

The bones and horns are often made into jewellery, especially earrings. Horns are used for the embouchure of musical instruments, such as ney and kaval.[40]

Environmental effects

The water buffalo may affect the environment in either positive or negative ways.

Wildlife and conservation scientists have started to recommend and use introduced populations of feral domestic water buffalo in far away lands to manage uncontrolled vegetation growth in and around natural wetlands. Introduced water buffalo at home in such environs provide cheap service by regularly grazing the uncontrolled vegetation and opening up clogged water bodies for waterfowl, wetland birds and other wildlife.[41][42] Grazing water buffalo are sometimes used in Great Britain for conservation grazing, such as in Chippenham Fen National Nature Reserve. It was found that the buffalos can better adapt to wet conditions and poor-quality vegetation than cattle.[43]

Currently, research is being conducted at the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies to determine the levels of nutrients removed and returned to wetlands when water buffalo are used for wetland vegetation management.

However, in uncontrolled circumstances, water buffalo can cause environmental damage, such as trampling vegetation, disturbing bird and reptile nesting sites, and spreading exotic weeds.[44]


The super carabaos at the milking and breeding station

The world's first cloned buffalo was developed by Indian scientists from National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal. The buffalo calf was named Samrupa. The calf did not survive more than a week, and died due to some genetic disorders. So, the scientists created another cloned buffalo a few months later, and named it Garima.[45]

On 15 September 2007, the

  • Feral buffalo in Australia
  • Wild Asian (Water) BuffaloAnimal Info:
  • BuffaloesCreature features:
  • MurrahBreeds of Livestock:
  • Identification of Quantitative Trait Loci for Milk yield, Fat and Protein Percent in BuffaloesNational Agricultural Innovation Project:

External links

  • Clutton-Brock, J. 1999. A Natural History of Domesticated Mammals. Cambridge UK : Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-63495-4.
  • Guinness Book of Records, 2005
  • Nowak, R.M. and Paradiso, J.L. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore, Maryland, USA: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-2525-3
  • Voelker, W. 1986. The Natural History of Living Mammals. Medford, New Jersey, USA: Plexus Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-937548-08-1.
  • Roth, J. and P. Myers. "Bubalis Bubalis", University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved on 15 January 2009
  • Fahimuddin, M. 1989. Domestic Water Buffalo. Janpath, New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 81-204-0402-5.
  • The Water Buffalo: New Prospects For An Underutilized Animal. Washington, D.C. 1981. National Academy Press. ISBN 8183416.
  • Wilson, D. E. and Reeder, D. M. 1993. Mammal Species of the World, Second Edition, A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Smithsonian Institution.
  • Ruangprim, T. et al. 2007. Rumen microbes and ecology of male dairy, beef cattle and buffaloes. In: Proceedings Animal Science Annual Meeting, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand.
  • Thu, Nguyen Van and T. R. Preston. 1999. Rumen environment and feed degradability in swamp buffaloes fed different supplements. Livestock Research for Rural Development 11 (3)
  • Wanapat, M. 2000. Rumen manipulation to increase the efficient use of local feed resources and productivity of ruminants in the tropics. Asian-Aust. J. Anim. Sci. 13(Suppl.): 59-67.
  • Wanapat, M. and P. Rowlinson. 2007. Nutrition and feeding of swamp buffalo: Feed resources and rumen approach. Paper to be presented at the VIII World Buffalo Congress, 19–22 October 2007, Caserta, Italy, organized by The International Buffalo Federation.

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cockrill, W. R. (1977). The water buffalo. Rome: Animal Production and Health Series No. 4. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 
  2. ^ Lau, C. H., Drinkwater, R. D., Yusoff, K., Tan, S. G., Hetzel, D. J. S. and Barker, J. S. F. (1998). Genetic diversity of Asian water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis): mitochondrial DNA D-loop and cytochrome b sequence variation. Animal Genetics 29(4): 253–264.
  3. ^ a b Cockrill, W. R. (ed.) (1974). The husbandry and health of the domestic buffalo. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
  4. ^ Yang, D. Y., Liu, L., Chen, X., Speller, C. F. (2008). Wild or domesticated: DNA analysis of ancient water buffalo remains from north China. Journal of Archaeological Science 35: 2778–2785.
  5. ^ Scherf, B. D. (2000). World watch list for domestic animal diversity. Third edition. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
  6. ^ Priyanto, D., Suradisastra, K. (2010). Ko-evolusi dan Panarchy: Integrasi Ternak Kerbau dalam Sistem Sosial Etnis Toraja. Seminar dan Lokakarya Nasional Kerbau 2010
  7. ^ Kochhar, H. P., Rao, K. B., Luciano, A. M., Totey, S. M., Gandolfi, F., Basrur, P. K., King, W. A. (2002). ) hybrid embryos"Bubalus bubalis - Bos taurus"In vitro production of cattle-water buffalo (. Zygote 102:155–162. 
  8. ^ Wanapat, M.; Ngarmsang, A.; Korkhuntot, S.; Nontaso, N.; Wachirapakorn, C.; Beakes, G.; Rowlinson, P. (2000). A comparative study on the rumen microbial population of cattle and swamp buffalo raised under traditional village conditions in the northeast of Thailand. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 13 (7): 918–921.
  9. ^ Wanapat, M. (2001). "Swamp buffalo rumen ecology and its manipulation". Proceedings Buffalo Workshop. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Borghese, A., Mazzi, M. (2005). Buffalo Population and Strategies in the World. Pages 1–39 in Borghese, A. (ed.) Buffalo Production and Research. REU Technical Series 67. Inter-regional Cooperative Research Network on Buffalo, FAO Regional Office for Europe, Rome.
  11. ^ Barile, V. L. (2005). Reproductive Efficiency in Female Buffaloes. Pages 77–108 in Borghese, A. (ed.) Buffalo Production and Research. REU Technical Series 67. Inter-regional Cooperative Research Network on Buffalo, FAO Regional Office for Europe, Rome.
  12. ^ Linnaei, C. (1758). Bubalis bubalus Page 72 in: Caroli Linnæi Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Imensis Direct. Laurentii Salvii, Holmiae.
  13. ^ Ellerman, J. R., Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. (1966). Checklist of Palaearctic and Indian mammals 1758 to 1946. Second edition. British Museum of Natural History, London. Pp. 383–384.
  14. ^ Corbet, G. B. and Hill, J. E. (1987). A World List of Mammalian Species, Second edition. London: British Natural History Museum.  
  15. ^ Groves, C. P. (1971). "Request for a declaration modifying Article 1 so as to exclude names proposed for domestic animals from Zoological Nomenclature". Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 27: 269–272. 
  16. ^ International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (2003). Opinion 2027 (Case 3010). Usage of 17 specific names based on wild species which are predated by or contemporary with those based on domestic animals (Lepidoptera, Osteichthyes, Mammalia): conserved. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 60: 81–84.
  17. ^ Gentry, A. Clutton-Brock, J., Groves, C. P. (2004). The naming of wild animal species and their domestic derivatives. Journal of Archaeological Science 31: 645–651.
  18. ^ Kumar, S., Nagarajan, M., Sandhu, J. S., Kumar, N., Behl, V. (2007). "Phylogeography and domestication of Indian river buffalo". BMC Evolutionary Biology 7: 186.  
  19. ^ a b Moioli, B. and A. Borghese (2005). Buffalo Breeds and Management Systems. Pages 51–76 in Borghese, A. (ed.) Buffalo Production and Research. REU Technical Series 67. Inter-regional Cooperative Research Network on Buffalo, FAO Regional Office for Europe, Rome.
  20. ^ Kumar, S., Nagarajan, M., Sandhu, J. S., Kumar, N., Behl, V. and Nishanth, G. (2007). "Mitochondrial DNA analyses of Indian water buffalo support a distinct genetic origin of river and swamp buffalo". Animal Genetics 38: 227–232.  
  21. ^ Tanaka, K., Solis, C. D., Masangkay, J. S., Maeda, K., Kawamoto, I. Y. and Namikawa, T. (1996). Phylogenetic relationship among all living species of the genus Bubalus based on DNA sequences of the cytochrome b gene. Biochemical Genetics 34: 443–452.
  22. ^ Borghese, A. (2011). Situation and Perspectives of Buffalo in the World, Europe and Macedonia. Macedonian Journal of Animal Science 1 (2): 281–296.
  23. ^ a b Singh, C. V. and R. S. Barwal (2010). Buffalo Breeding Research and Improvement Strategies in India. Pages 1024–1031 in The Buffalo in the World. Proceedings of the 9th World Buffalo Congress, Buenos Aires, April 2010.
  24. ^ Agricultural Census Commission (2012). .Pakistan Agricultural Census 2010 Government of Pakistan, Statistics Division, Agricultural Census Organization, Lahore.
  25. ^ FAO (2013). .Breeds reported by Pakistan: Buffalo Domestic Animal Diversity Information System, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Rome.
  26. ^ Uriyapongson, S. (2013). Buffalo and Buffalo Meat in Thailand. Buffalo Bulletin 32: 329–332.
  27. ^ Lydekker, R. (1898). "The Indian buffalo – Bos bubalis". Wild Oxen, Sheep, and Goats of all Lands. London: Rowland Ward. pp. 118–128. 
  28. ^ Letts, G. A. (1964). "Feral Animals in the Northern Territory". Australian Veterinary Journal 40 (3): 84–88.  
  29. ^ The feral water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Fact Sheet. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Retrieved on 17 July 2012.
  30. ^ Sharp, K. (2009). Frontier to the Crossroads. Outback Magazine 67:
  31. ^ ABC website Buffalo exports still suffering June 10, 2013
  32. ^ Sheikh, P. A., Merry, F. D., McGrath, D. G. (2006). "Water buffalo and cattle ranching in the Lower Amazon Basin: Comparisons and conflicts". [1] Agricultural Systems 87: 313–330.
  33. ^ The Woodstock Water Buffalo Company
  34. ^ D'Ambrosio, C., Arena, S., Salzano, A. M., Renzone, G., Ledda, L. and Scaloni, A. (2008). A proteomic characterization of water buffalo milk fractions describing PTM of major species and the identification of minor components involved in nutrient delivery and defense against pathogens. Proteomics 8(17): 3657–3666.
  35. ^ Khan, M. A. S., Islam, M. N., Siddiki, M. S. R. (2007). Physical and chemical composition of swamp and water buffalo milk: a comparative study. Italian Journal of Animal Science 6, (Suppl. 2): 1067–1070.
  36. ^ Han, X., Lee , F. L., Zhang, L. and M. R. Guo (2012). Chemical composition of water buffalo milk and its low-fat symbiotic yogurt development. Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2 (4): 86–106.
  37. ^ Borghese, A. (2005). Buffalo Cheese and Milk Industry. Pages 185–195 in Borghese, A. (ed.) Buffalo Production and Research. REU Technical Series 67. Inter-regional Cooperative Research Network on Buffalo, FAO Regional Office for Europe, Rome.
  38. ^ "Buffalo Milk". Dairy For All. Retrieved 2013-06-11. 
  39. ^ Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division
  40. ^ "Why Wear Horn Earrings?". Bandaru Organics. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  41. ^ BBC News February 2004 Buffalo improve wildlife habitat
  42. ^ "Buffaloes and wetlands" -- grazing in wetland management: A discussion from the Ramsar Forum over late March 1998
  43. ^  
  44. ^ Roth, J. and P. Myers (2004). "Bubalis Bubalis". University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web. 
  45. ^ Samrupa, World's first cloned buffalo calf from India. Retrieved from
  46. ^ Hicap, Jonathan M. (17 September 2007). "RP to produce Southeast Asia`s first cloned buffalo". 
  47. ^ Uy, Jocelyn (2007-12-31). Super carabao' making the scene in year of the rats"'". 
  48. ^ Dutta, Pullock (12 January 2008). "Bonfire, feast & lots more".  
  49. ^ Do Son: buffalo fighting festival (Vietnam), 14 September 2005, VietNamNet Bridge
  50. ^ Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival Vietnam,
  51. ^ Buffalo Fighting in Hai Luu Commune, Vietnam News Agency
  52. ^ VIDEO on YouTube:Water Buffalo-fighting festival: Buffalo-fighting festival is annually held on the 15th of the lunar two month in Hai Luu (Vinhphuc City). It results in this saying: "Go everywhere you want, but come back on the 15th of the lunar two month to attend the buffalo-fighting festival". Eventually, all those fighting buffalo are slaughtered as tributes to the deities.
  53. ^ Buffalo Fighting Festival Ko Samui,
  54. ^ Buffalo Fighting Festival, Koh Samui Festivals & Events, Thailand. Hotel and Travel Links Co. Ltd. Thailand
  55. ^ Buffalo Racing, Thailand, (p) some content provided by Tourism Authority of Thailand, Last Updated : 1 July 2007; Watching the Buffalo Racing, by Panrit "Gor" Daoruang, 14 October 2003, Thailand Life; Running of the buffalo: Thais take their beasts of burden to the races; by: Alisa Tang, Associated Press Writer; Buffalo Racing, The lowdown by Aliwyn Cole, 1 August 2005, Urban Lowdown; "Running with the Buffalo", originally published in the Learning Post, a supplement of the Bangkok Post
  56. ^ Buffalo Racing in Cambodia, 27 September 2006
  57. ^ "Bull race held at Kaakkoor peacefully". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 27 February 2004. 
  58. ^ Maramadi' winners"'". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 27 February 2004. 


See also

  • Vihear Suor village Water buffalo racing festival, Cambodia:[56] Each year, millions of Cambodians visit Buddhist temples across the country to honor their deceased loved ones during a 15-day period commonly known as the Festival of the Dead but in Vihear Suor village, about 22 miles (35 km) northeast of the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, citizens each year wrap up the festival with a water buffalo race to entertain visitors and honour a pledge made hundreds of years ago. There was a time when many village cattle which provide rural Cambodians with muscle power to plough their fields and transport agricultural products died from an unknown disease. The villagers prayed to a spirit to help save their animals from the disease and promised to show their gratitude by holding a buffalo race each year on the last day of “P'chum Ben” festival as it is known in Cambodian. The race draws hundreds of spectators who come to see riders and their animals charge down the racing field, the racers bouncing up and down on the backs of their buffalo, whose horns were draped with colorful cloth.
  • Babulang Water buffalo racing festival, Sarawak, Malaysia: Babulang is the largest or grandest of the many rituals, ceremonies and festivals of the traditional Bisaya (Borneo) community of Limbang, Sarawak. Highlights are the Ratu Babulang competition and the Water buffalo races which can only be found in this town in Sarawak, Malaysia.
  • Kambala races, Karnataka, India: The Kambala water buffalo races of Karnataka, India take place between December and March. The races are conducted by having the water buffalo (he buffalo) run in long parallel slushy ditches, where they are driven by men standing on wooden planks drawn by the buffaloes. The objectives of the race are to finish first and to raise the water to the greatest height and also a rural sport. Kambala races are arranged with competition as well as without competition and as a part of thanks giving (to god) in about 50 villages of coastal Karnataka.
  • In the Chonburi Province of Thailand, and in Pakistan, there are annual water buffalo races.
  • Chon Buri Water buffalo racing festival, Thailand:[55] Thousands of people flock to this entertainment in downtown Chonburi, 70 km (43 mi) south of Bangkok, at the annual water buffalo festival held in mid-October. About 300 buffalo race in groups of five or six, spurred on by bareback jockeys wielding wooden sticks, as hundreds of spectators cheer. The water buffalo has always played an important role in agriculture in Thailand. For farmers of Chon Buri Province, near Bangkok, it is an important annual festival, beginning in mid-October. It is also a celebration among rice farmers before the rice harvest. At dawn, farmers walk their buffalo through surrounding rice fields, splashing them with water to keep them cool before leading them to the race field. This amazing festival started over a hundred years ago when two men arguing about whose buffalo was the fastest ended up having a race between them. That’s how it became a tradition and gradually a social event for farmers who gathered from around the country in Chonburi to trade their goods. The festival also helps a great deal in preserving the number of buffalo, which have been dwindling at quite an alarming rate in other regions. Modern machinery is rapidly replacing buffalo in Thai agriculture. With most of the farm work mechanized, the buffalo-racing tradition has continued. Racing buffalo are now raised just to race; they do not work at all. The few farm buffalo which still do work are much bigger than the racers because of the strenuous work they perform. Farm buffalo are in the “Buffalo Beauty Pageant”, a Miss Farmer beauty contest and a comic buffalo costume contest etc.. This festival perfectly exemplifies a favored Thai attitude to life — "sanuk," meaning fun.
Buffalo race at Vandar village, Udupi district, India.
Water buffalo racing at Babulang 2006

Racing festivals

  • "Ma'Pasilaga Tedong" Water Buffalo Fighting Festival in Tana Toraja Regency of Sulawesi Island, Indonesia is a very popular event where the Rambu Solo' or a Burial Festival took place in Tana Toraja.
  • "Ko Samui" Water Buffalo Fighting Festival of Thailand[53][54] is a very popular event held on special occasions such as New Year's Day in January, and Songkran in mid-April, this festival features head-wrestling bouts in which two male Asian water buffalo are pitted against one another. Unlike in Spanish Bullfighting, wherein bulls get killed while fighting sword-wielding men, Buffalo Fighting Festival held at Ko Samui, Thailand is fairly harmless contest. The fighting season varies according to ancient customs & ceremonies. The first Buffalo to turn and run away is considered the loser, the winning buffalo becomes worth several million baht. Ko Samui is an island in the Gulf of Thailand in the South China Sea, it is 700 km from Bangkok and is connected to it by regular flights.
  • "Hai Luu" Water Buffalo Fighting Festival of Vietnam[51][52] According to ancient records, the buffalo fighting in Hai Luu Commune has existed from the 2nd century B.C. General Lu Gia at that time, had the buffalo slaughtered to give a feast to the local people and the warriors, and organized buffalo fighting for amusement. Eventually, all the fighting buffalo will be slaughtered as tributes to the deities.
  • Moh juj Water Buffalo fighting[48] is held every year in Bhogali Bihu in Assam. Ahotguri in Nagaon is famous for it.
  • The Do Son Water Buffalo Fighting Festival of Vietnam,[49][50] held each year on the ninth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar at Do Son Township, Haiphong City in Vietnam, is one of the most popular Vietnam festivals and events in Haiphong City. The preparations for this buffalo fighting festival begin from the two to three months earlier. The competing buffalo are selected and methodically trained months in advance. It is a traditional festival of Vietnam attached to a Water God worshipping ceremony and the Hien Sinh custom to show martial spirit of the local people of Do Son, Haiphong.
An unstaged water buffalo fight

Fighting festivals

  • Legend has it that the Chinese philosophical sage Laozi left China through the Han Gu Pass riding a water buffalo.
  • According to Hindu lore, the god of death Yama, rides on a male water buffalo.
  • The carabao subspecies is considered a national symbol in the Philippines.
  • In Vietnam, water buffalo are often the most valuable possession of poor farmers: "Con trâu là đầu cơ nghiệp". They are treated as a member of the family: "Chồng cày, vợ cấy, con trâu đi bừa" ("The husband ploughs, the wife sows, water buffalo draws the rake") and are friends of the children. Children talk to their water buffalo, "Bao giờ cây lúa còn bông. Thì còn ngọn cỏ ngoài đồng trâu ăn." (Vietnamese children are responsible for grazing water buffalo. They will feed them a lot of grass if they work laboriously for men.) In the old days, West Lake, Hà Nội was named Kim Ngưu - Golden Water Buffalo.
  • The Yoruban Orisha Oya (goddess of change) takes the form of a water buffalo.

Some ethnic groups, such as Batak and Toraja in Indonesia and the Derung in China, use water buffalo or kerbau (called horbo in Batak or tedong in Toraja) as sacrificial animals at several festivals.

Horns of water buffaloes sacrificed in West Sumba, Indonesia, c. 1936 (collection Tropenmuseum)
Water Buffalo (Suigyū) by Katsushika Hokusai, ca. 1875
Ceramic water buffalo from 2300 BCE found in Lopburi, Thailand

In culture

On 1 January 2008, the Philippine Carabao Center in Nueva Ecija, per Filipino scientists, initiated a study to breed a super water buffalo that could produce 4 to 18 litres of milk per day using gene-based technology. Also, the first in vitro river buffalo was born there in 2004 from an in vitro-produced, vitrified embryo, named "Glory" after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Joseph Estrada's most successful project as an opposition senator, the PCC was created through Republic Act 3707, the Carabao Act of 1992.[47]


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