IFAW's Ian Robinson on Releasing Water Buffalo Back into the Wild

Ian Robinson is the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Emergency Relief program director, he recently spent four weeks in India working with our partner organizations and visiting projects…

Wild_buff_2_web The mighty Brahmaputra river flows down from the Himalayas and across the breadth of Assam, before entering Bangladesh and emptying into the Bay of Bengal. The heavy monsoon rains bring floods – both a blessing and a curse. Silt washed from the soils of the high Himalayas brings great fertility to the floodplain each year, which not only supports the rice paddies of the human population, but a great wealth of natural flora and fauna, making this area a biodiversity hot spot.

When the floods run high, they drive both people and animals from their homes, seeking the safety of higher ground. On this journey many animals become displaced as they run a gauntlet of human development that surrounds each National Park in the region, and commonly infants get separated from their mothers. Which is how IFAW ended up with two wild buffalo calves to rear, rehabilitate and return to the wild in the first place...

The National Park of Dibru – Sikova is an island entirely surrounded by the Brahmaputra river, an ideal habitat for water loving wild buffalo. Hand reared at our rescue center on the outskirts of Kaziranga National Park, these two young buffalo were transferred a year ago to a large electric fenced release paddock on the island. This move was a feat in itself, with over a hundred people involved in carrying the buffalo, each in a wooden crate supported on long bamboo poles – teams of 20 – 30 people took it in turns to carry the crates the 3km from the boat to the release paddock.

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