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Common Name: Asian Water Buffalo

Scientific Name: Bubalus bubalis


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammilia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Genus: Bubalus

Species: B. bubalis

The bubalus bubalis is a very unique and exceptional creature. This animal has proven to be one of a kind with its talents and abilities that many other animals may not obtain. The bubalus bubalis varies in size depending upon environment, gender, age, and levels of domestication within their immediate family. The bubalus bubalis stands between 1.5 m and 1.9 m tall, about 240 to 300 cm in length, (tail is approximately 60 - 100 cm) and weighs in at 1200 kg (male) and 800 kg (female). Each kilogram is approximately 2.2 lbs, thus making the male water buffalo around 2600 lbs and the female up to 1700 lbs. The domesticated bubalus bubalis weight ranges from 250 kg to 500 kg. (500 to 1000 lbs).


The bubalus bubalis is known for the massive size of their horns, with the widest spread horns of any bovid. Their horns are heavy set, triangular in cross-section, and ribbed. Their skin color is deceptive. Although the exact color of their skin is not obvious due to constant mud covering, researchers believe that when dry the skin is most commonly going to be a dark grey. When the buffalo is moist but not mud covered, it will be dark brown to black. They can grow long ashy-grey to black hair when not mud covered.

This animal requires many different adaptations in order to survive. Their size, relative to their habitat, seems to protect them from most predators. Their large and splayed hooves allow them to wade in deep areas of mud without getting trapped. This animal is extremely easy to identify due to its large size (much larger than any other bovid), the variation in tint and coloration from other breeds, and the great size of its horns. The bubalus bubalis stands out in comparison to other bovids.


The bubalus bubalis can be found in several different areas of the world. They typically reside in tropical and subtropical forests, but may also be found in wet grasslands. These animals spend much time wading in mud holes and rivers for recreation or to escape the heat. Swamps, grasslands, marshes, and certain forests serve as this animal's niche, which consists of tall grasses, rivers, and streams. The bubalus bubalis requires an abundance of water for drinking (and wallowing), large amounts of food, and a fairly dense covering within their environment. The areas that they inhabit contain all necessities for the bubalus bubalis' survival.


This animal usually can be found in the following areas: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Indochina, Mediterranean areas, South America, and Central America. Water buffalo of this breed can also be found in Southeast China, and even some parts of Australia. Bubalus bubalis are extremely endangered and could possibly be on the verge of extinction. The bubalus bubalis is on the "ICUN Endangered Species List." An estimation of the population of this water buffalo states that there are approximately 1000 wild bubalus bubalis remaining. The population is decreasing dramatically and researchers believe that there are several causes for this, some of which are listed as follows: nonstop habitat damage, interbreeding, hunting, contest with domestic livestock over food, and many diseases which can be transmitted from the domesticated livestock to the wild livestock through interbreeding and close contact. Legal protection is necessary and is being implemented in India, Thailand, and Nepal on natural reserves. Although preserving the habitat of bubalus bubalis is extremely difficult due to the encroachment of the human population, every attempt is being made to save the environment of these wonderful creatures.


The bubalus bubalis is primarily a grass grazer. It eats many other things like herbs and aquatic plants. Another addition to the bubalus bubalis' diet is that it sometimes dines on leaves, and crops. Since this animal dwells near water (for drinking, leisure, and for cooling off) it might eat any type of vegetation or shrubbery near the water mass. The bubalus bubalis doesn't really compete for their food. The only opponents are other herbivores and even omnivores. (The domesticated bubalus bubalis competes with other domesticated buffalo and even the wild buffalo if they travel to domesticated areas such as reserves.) The bubalus bubalis usually has plenty of food as long as the natural vegetation is abundant and its grazing lands aren't destroyed by humans for commercial or residential development. 

There are only two known predators of the bubalus bubalis. One is tigers. Tigers attempt to attack this animal when the bubalus bubalis is weak or sickly, smaller than average size, or whenever the opportunity for a successful hunt emerges. Humans are the second known predators. Humans will capture these animals for food or hunt them for trophies (head and/or horns). But, the bubalus bubalis is very intelligent and thinks of many differed schemes to aid them in evading being devoured or brutally slain. Their size sometimes can come in handy when tigers are on the prowl. Tigers fear failure, and the worst penalty for failure is death by way of the buffalo's horns and hooves. The bubalus bubalis can also camouflage themselves by covering their body with mud and blending in. Mud wallowing isn't only used for recreation and thermal purposes. Finally, their enormous horns can be used as a defense mechanism. Using their intelligence, size, and camouflaging skills, the bubalus bubalis is known for its special self-preservation tactics.


There are many unique and interesting things about the Asian Water Buffalo. First, the bubalus bubalis has the widest spread horns of any bovid. These large horns have many productive uses. Through research, people can learn about the bubalus bubalis like I did. The bubalus bubalis is one special creature, in which I was ecstatic to find information about. After taking time to ponder all of the fascinating facts about the bubalus bubalis, perhaps their ability to avoid predators is the most remarkable talent. Strategizing and arranging plans for escape, discovering and using new techniques for self-defense, and disguising themselves by using instinct keeps the bubalus bubalis on the top of my list of interesting creatures. The Asian Water Buffalo sets an example for all living things. They use their brain and their brawn to survive in the cruel, cold, and tough world that we live in today.


Author: Bailey W

Published: 02/2007 Bibliography Books: Shackleton, D, and A Harestad.


"Bovids I- Kudus, Buffaloes, and Bison." Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. 16th vol. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2003. Web Sites: "Bubalus Bubalis: Species Information." IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 8 Feb. 2007 Roth, Jason. "Bubalus Bubalis." Animal Diversity Web. 1995. The Regents of the University of Michigan. 8 Feb. 2007


Photo Credit: Buffalo at the Waccatee Zoo near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA (October 11, 1995) Copyright © 1998-2007 by Jon Maloney






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