Domestic Water Buffalo: Evolution, Appearance, Diet & More

The domestic water buffalo, also known as the Asian buffalo, Asiatic water buffalo, or arni, is the second-largest member of the bovid family and a near relative of the yak, bison, African buffalo, ox, and several other forms of wild cattle. The wild water buffalo has tragically become endangered as a result of domestication due to its incredible power and milk’s high-fat content as well as ceremonial shooting.

Domestic Water Buffalo: Scientific Name

These buffalos share a family tree with yaks, bison, African buffalo, and a number of other wild bovid species. Bubalus bubalis is the scientific term for domestic water buffalo, and Bubalus arnee is the name of their wild equivalent. These buffaloes have been domesticated for various reasons, and there are two subspecies among them river and swamp. A near relative of the African Cape buffalo is the Asiatic water buffalo.

List of Water Buffalo Species:

  • Murrah buffalo
  • Nili-Ravi
  • Carabao
  • Italian Mediterranean
  • Surti buffalo
  • Nagpuri

Evolution and Origins

The family Bovidae includes big domesticated mammals known as domestic water buffaloes or Bubalus bubalis. They are widely dispersed over the globe and are famous for their milk, meat, and labor. This is especially true in Asia and Africa. Water buffaloes are now a frequent sight in many parts of the world, but research and interest in their evolution and history continue.

The Anoa, a little, buffalo-like animal that lived in Indonesia more than two million years ago, is the earliest known predecessor of the water buffalo. Over time, the Anoa evolved into two distinct species the Swamp buffalo, which is found in Southeast Asia, and the River buffalo, which is found in South Asia. 

The Brahmaputra River valley, which is located in what is now Bangladesh and eastern India, is regarded to have been the birthplace of the swamp buffalo. From there, it moved to Southeast Asia, where it developed into a significant animal for both transportation and agriculture. The River buffalo, on the other hand, is believed to have originated in the region of the Ganges River in northern India.

Buffalo Vs Bison

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500 Teeth Dinosaur

Domestic Water Buffalo: Appearance and Behavior

The arni in the wild is a huge creature. Its length is approximately 10 feet, and its shoulder height is almost 6 feet. They have enormous, backward-curving horns and are primarily dark gray or black in hue. Males have greater horns and typically weigh over 2,600 pounds, whilst females have horns that are correspondingly smaller. 

The males weigh roughly two and a half grizzly bears weight The usual male horn length is about five feet, however, the greatest horn length ever documented is a staggering 13 feet 10 inches. A Volkswagen Beetle is barely 13 feet, 5 inches long, in contrast. The weight of domestic water buffaloes can range from slightly less than 1,000 pounds to 2,000 pounds. The majority of these domesticated buffaloes have the same coloration, however, some of the 74 different varieties can have considerably varying horn sizes and shapes.

Habitat

Animals known as domestic water buffalo can be found in Europe, Asia, Africa, Japan, Hawaii, North America, and South America. However, there are just a few limited, protected regions in India, Nepal, Thailand, and Bhutan in Southeast Asia where wild buffalos still exist. It should be emphasized that these buffaloes’ current environment does not necessarily reflect their genuine preferences. They have only managed to survive due to overhunting in isolated, challenging-to-access, or protected places. The buffalo have access to enough vegetation for cover, water, and food in thick.

Diet

As herbivorous animals, these buffalo seek for food. They favor eating grasses but will also consume fruit, bushes, bark, and other types of leaves. Buffalo will feed in the open at dawn and night while hiding during the warmest times of the day in places that are uninhabited by humans. Wild buffalo and those without enough sun protection will graze irregularly. This is probably a result of interbreeding with domestic species, and it is also evident in their more cattle-like behavior as contrasted to their strictly wild kin.

Predators and Threats

Humans and domestic water buffalo are the two main enemies of the arni. Buffaloes are hunted by humans for their meat, horns, and ritualistic uses. The destruction of forests for agricultural or residential purposes also contributes to habitat loss, which is a result of human activity. The wild water buffalos genetic distinctiveness has been lost as a result of interbreeding with numerous domesticated buffalo and cattle species. 

The buffalo are exposed to the same sickness that has decimated the wild herds due to their close contact with domestic breeds. Humans, tigers, leopards, and crocodiles are these buffalos principal predators. Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan Every other year, female water buffalo normally give birth to a single calf. Male bachelor herds or lone elder bulls roam the maternal herds in search of receptive mates.

Population

Although there are about 165 million domesticated buffaloes and related hybrid species, it is uncertain how many arni there actually are. The research of the species has faced major obstacles due to their isolated, challenging habitat and the difficulties in distinguishing between domestic, feral, and wild herds. 

Fewer than 2,500 of the remaining 4,000 wild water buffalo are considered to be mature adults, according to research. This population’s decline is thought to be a result of the low number of wild herds that still interbreed with domestic, feral, and hybrid water buffalo. Bubalus, an endangered species of wild buffalo, is nearly entirely found in Southeast Asian protected areas.

Zoo

Arnis is a pretty typical sight in American zoos. There are arni on-site in even smaller zoos and rescue organizations, like the Little Ponderosa Zoo in Clinton, Tennessee. Even the drive-through safari ride at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, features Asiatic water buffalo.

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