August 5, 2020

New publication in Ecology & Evolution

New publication in Ecology & Evolution

Feeding preferences and nutritional niche of wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal - Tej K. Shrestha, Lee J. Hecker, Achyut Aryal, & Sean C.P. Coogan

We studied the nutritional ecology wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) in Nepal. The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Refuge (KTWR) houses what was last Nepalese population of wild water buffalo, known as “Arna” in Nepal, of c.a. 220 individuals (Heinen & Paudel, 2015). In 2016, 30 Arna were translocated from the KTWR to the Chitwan National Park in an effort to establish a second Arna population in Nepal. The most significant threat to the KTWR Arna population is genetic introgression from Bubalus bubalis as farmers will graze their female buffaloes on the edge on the KTWR in the hopes that they will mate with male Arna producing offspring with a higher market value (Heinen, 1993). Other human-induced threats to Arna include road mortality, poisoning and electrocution, poaching, thatch collection, habitat fragmentation, illegal wood collection and gravel mining, and interspecific competition with cattle and domestic buffalo (Heinen & Singh, 2001; Kandel et al., 2014). Potential for disease transmission from cattle and domestic buffalo has also been cited as a threat to Arna in KTWR, but has yet to be observed (Heinen, 1993; Khatri et al., 2012). The major natural source of Arna mortality in KTWR is flooding during the monsoon season, which has been directly responsible for the deaths and calves and females and increases human-Arna conflict as flood waters force Arna into agricultural lands due to a small buffer zone of natural forest in KTWR (Heinen, 1993; Heinen and Paudel 2015). Male Arna are also known to die of infected wounds incurred during battles for dominance (Heinen, 1993). Natural predators of Arna (e.g., tigers, Panthera tigris; leopards, Panthera pardis; dholes, Cuon aplinus) have been extirpated from the KTWR for at least 40 years (Heinen & Paudel, 2015).

For details on the buffalo's nutritional ecology check out our publication in Ecology & Evolution.

Suggested Citation: Shrestha, T. K., Hecker, L.J., Aryal, A., & Coogan, S.C. (2020). Feeding preferences and nutritional niche of wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. Ecology and Evolution.

Literature cited:

Heinen, J.T. 1993. Population viability and management recommendations for wild water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. Biological Conservation, 65, 29-34.

Heinen, J.T., and P.K. Paudel. 2015. On the translocation of wild Asian buffalo Bubalis arnee in Nepal: Are feral backcrosses worth conserving? Conservation Science. 3:11-21.

Heinen, J.T., Singh, G.R. 2001. A census and some management implications for wild buffalo in Nepal, Biological Conservation, (101): 391–394.

Khatri, T.B., D.N. Shah, and N. Mishra. 2012. Wild water buffalo Bubalus arnee in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal: status, population and conservation importance. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 4(14):3294-3301.

Featured Image:
NejibAhmed. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons.