Wild buffaloes threatened

Published: Monday 31 January 2000

Diminishing numbers the spectre of extinction is haunting wild buffaloes and experts say the threat is much greater than faced by tigers in the country. The magnificent beast, venerated in folklore as the van bhainsa, loves to move around in swamplands and prefers grazing only at night -- to avoid the heat and because of this they are perceived by many as elusive.

The wild buffalo population has declined because their moist grassy habitat has been lost due to logging for fuel and fodder. Inter-breeding between wild bulls and domestic female buffaloes have resulted in the former losing its distinct genetic characterestics, making it susceptible to diseases that are common in domestic livestock.

Experts believe that in situ conservation is the only solution for assuring its longevity and captive breeding has been completely ruled out as an alternative. In this regard, plans of reintroducing it in Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh and Manas National Park in Assam had been drawn up, but the scheme has now been put on hold. At the Indrawati Tiger Reserve in Assam only 14 of these animals were recorded in a survey conducted a few months ago.

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