By KALANI CHEN-HAYES, age 10

PHOTO: Oceanik

PHOTO: Oceanik

The water buffalo, or the domestic Asian water buffalo if you want to get specific, is a large mammal found throughout India and Southeast Asia. Their scientific name is Bubalus Bubalis, and they have gray, black, brown and tan coats. Water buffalo have been domesticated for more than 5,000 years, and are raised for their meat, hide and milk and their reputation as sturdy work animals. Since so many people in Asia depend upon them for transportation and to plow fields, they are sometimes referred to as the “living tractor of the East.” Wild water buffalo are classified as endangered: there has been a 50 percent decline in the population of the species over the past three generations, which will likely continue as they are bred with domesticated water buffalo.

Did You Know?

  • Standing five to six feet tall at the shoulders, water buffalo are the largest member of the Bovini tribe. This tribe includes yak, bison, African buffalo and other species of wild cattle.
  • These herbivores primarily feed on grass. Wild water buffalo tend to live in marshes and swamplands where they can wallow in mud and cool water.
  • Both male and female water buffalo have horns that curve backward in a crescent shape, but female horns are shorter.
  • The litter size is usually one calf, and the lifespan of a domesticated water buffalo is approximately 25 years.
  • You wouldn’t want a water buffalo to fall on you: they weigh between 1,500 and 2,650 pounds!
  • The water buffalo isn’t likely to break many speed limits on the highway, but they do move faster than humans, with speeds as high as 30 mph.