A water buffalo photographed at Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas
A water buffalo photographed at Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Water Buffalo

Common Name:
Water Buffalo
Scientific Name:
Bubalus bubalis
Type:
Mammals
Diet:
Herbivore
Group Name:
Herd
Average Life Span In The Wild:
Up to 25 years
Size:
Head and body: 8 to 9 feet; tail 2 to 3.3 feet
Weight:
1,500 to 2,650 pounds
IUCN Red List Status:
Not evaluated
Current Population Trend:
Unknown

The water buffalo, or Asian buffalo, as it is often called, is the largest member of the Bovini tribe, which includes yak, bison, African buffalo, various species of wild cattle, and others.

Size and Appearance

Standing 5 to 6.2 feet tall at the shoulder, wild water buffalo are formidable mammals with sparse gray-black coats. Males carry enormous backward-curving, crescent-shaped horns stretching close to 5 feet long with deep ridges on their surface. Females are smaller in size and weight, but they also have horns, although they are proportionately smaller.

Muddy Adaptations

Water buffalo spend much of their day submerged in the muddy waters of Asia’s tropical and subtropical forests. Their wide-splayed hoofed feet prevent them from sinking too deeply in the mud and allow them to move about in wetlands and swamps. These marshes provide good cover and rich aquatic plants to forage on, although water buffalo actually prefer to feed in grasslands on grass and herbs.

Reproduction

Females normally produce calves every other year, after a gestation of 9 to 11 months. Young bulls typically remain with maternal herds, which consist of around 30 buffalo, for three years after birth. They then go on to form small all-male herds.

Domestication

Water buffalo have been domesticated for more than 5,000 years. They have buttressed humanity’s survival with their meat, horns, hides, milk, butterfat, and power, plowing and transporting people and crops.

Wild water buffalo are at-risk and live only in a small number of protected areas stretching across India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and a wildlife reserve in Thailand. And populations are likely to diminish as they are interbred with domesticated water buffalo.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Niladri Sarkar, National Geographic Your Shot

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