The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Beaver
Story Of The Lion
Story Of The Elk
Story Of The Tiger.
Story Of The Mountain- Lion
Story Of The Camel
Story Of The Jaguar
Story Of The Buffalo.
Read More Articles About: The Story Of Wild Animals
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The Indian buffalo has been domesticated and is extensively employed as a beast of burden by the Hindoos. It has also been introduced into several of the adjoining countries. The animal is about the size of a full-grown ox and is harnessed and driven in a manner similar to that our forefathers used with the ox. This species has enormous curved horns, some measuring 12 and 14 feet from tip to tip.
In a wild state the Indian buffalo is only known in the country from which it takes its name, the herds which are found in a wild state in Burma and the Malay Peninsula and adjacent islands being not improbably descended from animals escaped from captivity.
In India wild buffaloes are found on the plains of the Bramaputra and Ganges, from the eastern end of Assam to Tirhut; they also occur in the "terai" land at the foot of the Himalaya. Domesticated, buffaloes are found not only over the whole of India and Burma, and the greater part of the Malayan region, but have likewise been introduced into Asia Minor, Egypt and Italy.
The haunts of the wild Indian buffalo are the tall grass-jungles found in many parts of the plains of India, and generally in the neighborhood of swamps ; but it may be also, found more rarely in the open plains of short grass, or among low jungle, and occasionally even in forest. Those who have never had the opportunity of seeing an Indian grass-jungle can have but little conception of its height and density, but some idea may be formed of it from the fact that in such cover, although a herd of buffaloes may be roused within a score of yards, the waving of the grass, and perhaps the glint of a polished horn-tip, is the only ocular evidence of the presence of the animals; the probably nearly noiseless rush might be caused by other animals; and where the horns have not been seen it is only by the strong, sweet bovine scent similar to but much more powerful than that of cows that one can be absolutely certain of what is in front of one. In such jungles shooting on foot is out of the question, and the only method of procedure is by beating with a line of elephants.
In their wild state these buffaloes are always found in herds, which may comprise fifty or more individuals. They feed chiefly on grass, in the evening, at night, and in the morning; and lie down, generally in high grass, not unfrequently in a marsh, during the day; they are by no, means shy, nor do they appear to shun the neighborhood of man, and they commit great havoc among growing crops. Sometimes a herd or a solitary bull will take possession of a field and keep off the men who own it. A bull not unfrequently attacks without provocation, though (probably on the principle that a council of war never fights) a herd, although all will gallop to within a short distance of an intruder and make most formidable demonstrations, never, I believe, attacks any one who does not run away from them. A wounded animal of either sex often charges, and has occasionally been known to knock an elephant down. Buffaloes retain their courage in captivity, and a herd will attack a tiger or other dangerous animal without hesitation, and, although gentle with those they know and greatly attached to them, they are inclined to be hostile to strange men and strange animals.
In earlier times the buffalo was common throughout Europe, but the advance of civilization there as in this country later drove the animal back, until the present time it is restricted to a few of the most inaccessible mountain regions.
The buffalo now living in Lithuania are specially protected by the Russian Government and are under the charge of a staff of keepers, but those of the Caucasus are thoroughly wild. Although living at a greater altitude, and thus exposed to a more intense cold, the buffalo of the Caucasus are less thickly haired than are those of Lithuania. Buffalo, were abundant in the Black Forest in the time of Julius Caesar, and as late as the ninth and tenth centuries were sufficiently numerous in parts of Switzerland and Germany to be used as food. In a recent summary of the history of the species I found that up to 1500 the European buffalo seems to have been common in Poland, where it was looked upon as royal game, and hunted in right royal manner by the king and nobility, as many as two thousand or three thousand beaters being employed to drive the game.
In spite of their size and bulk, the European buffalo are active animals. and can both trot and gallop with considerable speed. In galloping the head is carried close to the ground and the tail high in the air. Generally they are sly and retiring in disposition, but in Lithuania an old bull has been known to take possession of a road and challenge all comers. The female displays great courage in defending its offspring against bears and wolves, and cows often sacrifice their lives in behalf of their calves.