Academics call on govt to save wild buffalo herd
Academics have called for the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to help preserve the last herd of wild buffaloes living in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Uthai Thani.
Wild buffaloes in Thailand face a severe threat of extinction caused by human activities.
Veterinarian Marnoch Yindee, director of the Livestock and Wildlife Animal Hospital from Mahidol University, said the department should come up with clear information on whether wild buffaloes and domesticated buffaloes have the same genetics so that proper measures can be made.
Mr Marnoch said if they have shared the same genetics, it is possible to take some domesticated buffaloes for breeding with ones living in the forest to increase the population.
But if not, he said the department should come up with a plan to prevent cross-breeding between wild and domesticated buffaloes.
He said the department should have worked more closely with the Department of Livestock to limit free-range livestock owned by locals living near the wildlife sanctuary.
He said there was a risk the wild buffaloes could be infected with communicable diseases from domesticated buffaloes.
If this happened, it could lead to significant deaths in the herd, Mr Marnoch said.
The researcher team from Mahidol University studied the herd of wild buffaloes living in the lower part of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary 15 years ago and found there were about 50 beasts.
Rattanawat Chaiyarat, who prepared a research paper at that time, said the wild buffaloes have been at risk with crossbreeding problems.
Academics demanded the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation deal with the problem, but there has been no progress on the case. “So the department should preserve areas for those wild buffaloes to prevent such problems happening,” he said.
“We had the wild buffaloes — one of 15 protected wild animals living in the wildlife sanctuary — 15 years ago and until now there have been no substantial measures to protect and save them from extinction.
The department should take urgent measures to ensure that they do not become extinct.”
The academics’ call to protect and save the wild buffaloes were made during a seminar on “Domesticated buffaloes, Wild buffaloes and Thai buffaloes” organised by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to mark Buffalo Conservation Day which falls on Sunday.
It is estimated there are about 2,500 wild buffaloes worldwide and Thailand has only 50 left in the Huai Kha Khaeng.
Kanjana Nittaya, director of the Wildlife Conservation Office under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said the department planned to analyse the wild buffalo’s DNA, but was uncertain when this would be done.
Ms Kanjana also stressed that the wild buffaloes would be at serious risk of extinction if nothing is done to protect them.