The Domestic (Water) Buffalo in Africa: New and Unusual Records
The domestic (water) buffalo is not indigenous to Africa. Some buffalo may have been taken to what is now Tunisia in Roman times about 2000 years ago. The species arrived in Egypt from Mesopotamia some 1200 years past and there were attempted introductions to the east coast of Africa by the Portuguese from India in the sixteenth century. The missionary-explorer David Livingstone took four buffalo from India to what is now southern Tanzania in 1866. In the twentieth century, European powers introduced buffalo to many of their African colonies. In addition to Egypt and Tunisia on the Mediterranean coast of north Africa buffalo have been introduced to fourteen subSaharan countries. Information on these introductions is sparse and is obviously incomplete. With the exceptions of Tanzania, where there have been buffalo for 90 years, and Mozambique, where there is documented presence over about 50 years, buffalo have been present for very short periods. They have disappeared without trace in some countries and have been culled in others due to adaptation or disease problems. Suitable ecological niches for buffalo exist in many African countries. Too few animals, failure to provide sufficient public financial resources and lack of private sector interest are among the reasons for the buffalo’s failure to contribute to African livestock production.
Introductions, exotic animals, domestic livestock, animal disease, adaptation.
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