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Animal Heroes

5 Things You Didn't Know About Water Buffalo

By Bethany Ivie June 14, 2019

Meet the older cousins of the bovine clan: water buffalo! They're big, they're mysterious, and they haven't been to the family reunion in a couple of years. Here are a few fun facts to help you get reacquainted:


1.Water Buffalo's Hooves help keep them from sinking

A group of water buffalo gather neck-deep in a river.
Photo by Egle Sidaraviciute on Unsplash

In the wild, water buffalo spend much of their day cooling off in the muddy waters of Asia’s tropical forest. Because of their proclivity for this marshy terrain, water buffalo have wide, splayed hooves that enable them to move freely in the mud without sinking too deeply. If food is scarce, buffalo will even dive for plants growing on the beds of lakes and rivers!

2.Water buffalo are the world's largest bovines

A man rides a water buffalo in a green field.
Photo by Kiril Dobrev on Unsplash

At their largest, bull water buffalo can clock in at 2,650 pounds with a height of 6 ft (not including their horns, thank you). Water buffalo cows are typically more petite ranging from 1,500 pounds and up. Their formidable stature and domestication by humans in order to plow fields has earned water buffalo of both genders the nickname of "The Living Tractors of the East."

3.Water buffalo are fast and furious

A water buffalo throws a lion into the air with its horns.
NOPE!

Though domesticated buffalo are gentle enough to be milked (and even ridden), wild buffalo are notoriously aggressive and aren't afraid to face off with their only natural predators: tigers and lions. And they are fast! When threatened, water buffalo can reach speeds of 30 mph! 

4.You Have Probably Consumed Water Buffalo Milk

A plate of mozzarella and prosciutto
Photo by Brenan Greene on Unsplash

Compared to standard cow's milk, water buffalo milk contains higher levels of protein, calcium, and iron while sporting less cholesterol and lactose. Though not yet a popular drink in America, it is commonly used to make delicious, Italian-style mozzarella cheeses! If you haven't tried any mozzarella di bufala, it's time to treat yourself. 

5.Water Buffalo have been Domesticated for more than 5,000 Years

A South Asian family pose with their family water buffalo.
Vistacion and her husband Paquito, along with their grand children, take a photo with the family water buffalo.

Around the world, water buffalo are still giving humans a helping hoof! Besides cows, water buffalo contribute a significant percentage of the global milk population. In some areas of the world (like South Asia), buffalo are even the principal source of milk! 

Donate a Water Buffalo

Did you learn something new or interesting about these magnificent bovines? Consider donating a water buffalo to a family in need! With the help of one of these magnificent "Living Tractors of the East" a small-scale farmer can plant more than 4x the crops than he or she could by hand. These additional crops (and the milk a buffalo can give) provide nutrition and income to a family struggling with poverty. Give the gift of a water buffalo today!

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