Kaziranga counts its wild buffaloes

March 28th, 2008 - 5:06 pm ICT by admin  

Kaziranga (Assam), March 28 (IANS) India’s endangered wild buffalo, a favourite prey of the tigers, was counted Friday at the Kaziranga national park in Assam. The results will be out over the weekend. Over 300 forest staff covered the sprawling grasslands and forest looking for the rare herbivores.

The last count in the 430-sq-km Kaziranga put the number of wild buffaloes at around 1,400. They are thought to be less than 4,000 in number in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Thailand.

In India, the wild buffaloes are found in Assam and Chhattisgarh. Occasional sightings of the animal - called the Asiatic Water Buffaloes - have also been reported from Meghalaya and Maharashtra.

A wild buffalo can weigh 900-1,200 kg.

Kaziranga, a Unesco heritage site some 250 km from Guwahati, Assam’s biggest city, is famous for the one-horned rhinoceros. The government included the park under the Project Tiger to protect the big cat.

“The census was conducted in the four ranges of the park - Bagori, Burapahar, Central Range and Agaratoli,” park director S.N. Buragohain told IANS. The census is conducted every three years, he said.

In February, a swamp deer count in the park found around 600 animals - up from 400 a few years back. In the same month, another census found 1,293 elephants in the park, the director said.

Buragohain said it would take at least three to four days to compile the buffalo figures.

For the tigers, swamp deer and wild buffaloes are important food source. These buffaloes are also important to the grassland ecosystem as they help in plant rejuvenation.

Crossbreeding with domestic buffalo as well as shrinkage and destruction of the habitat were considered major threats to the wild buffalo’s survival in the range. The animal is protected by the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the animal as endangered in its red list of threatened species.

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