Water Buffalo – important farm animals
The weather cleared and gave us blue sky’s once more, we passed a field with grey water buffalo wading in the water. These are the Asian water buffalo, a domesticated farm animal that has adapted to, and enjoys being in the water. They are an important farm animal in Cambodia and south-east Asia.
The water buffalo are a beasts of burden or draught animal, as well as providing meat and dairy to Khmer farmers. In Asian countries it is still the water buffalo, skinny white cows or oxen who do the work, both are traditional farm animals. They haul produce, plough rice-fields, and provide family transport. The bi-products of the water buffalo are not wasted, this includes the dung of the water buffalo used as fertilizer and as fuel when dried. The skin or hide of the water buffalo produces a tough leather which is also a useful by-product.
Wild Water Buffalo
All domestic varieties of the water buffalo are descendents of one common ancestor, the wild water buffalo. The wild water buffalo is now an endangered species. True wild buffalo survive in small pockets on the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Estimated remaining population of wild water buffalo is fewer than 4,000. Of this number about 2,500 are mature wild buffalo.
The domestic water buffalo found in Southeast Asia today, although descended from the wild water buffalo, are a result of thousands of years of selective breeding across the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Above two young children riding their water buffalo home. The water buffalo, unlike the wild water buffalo, seem like a placid beast, more like a family pet to the children. We passed more sleek grey buffalo enjoying a swim in the paddocks after the rain. The water buffalo, skinny white cows or oxen are the beasts of burden throughout Cambodia. Most of the photo’s here, taken in Battambang a rural province.
Khmer horses – dainty farm animals
The further our trip took us into the Cambodian countryside the more water buffalo and skinny white cows appeared. During our tour we also saw small horses, they seemed more pony size. Beautiful creatures stepping out daintily despite their load of logs or produce. The Khmer horse in my photo looked really well cared for. It is difficult to think of these dainty ponies as a beast of burden, when you compare them to the stature of a wild water Buffalo or an oxen. The Khmer horses or ponies are another farm animal that has many uses for the Khmer farmers. I think the Asian horse is perhaps a smaller breed in comparison to our western steeds. Sadly, the numbers of these dainty creature are diminishing in Cambodia.
Since 2008 the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), and the Cambodian Pony Welfare Organization (CPWO) have equipped a mobile clinic and given training to Cambodian vet graduates in horse welfare. They now have vets who are busy treating ponies in towns and villages surrounding Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Next – About skinny white cows…..
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