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Water buffaloes brought in to Ham Fen nature reserve near Deal


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Water buffaloes have been introduced to a nature reserve.

They have been brought to Ham Fen near Deal and will be used to keep ditches clear.

The water buffaloes at Ham Fen. Picture: John Wilson, Kent Wildlife Trust
The water buffaloes at Ham Fen. Picture: John Wilson, Kent Wildlife Trust

Kent Wildlife Trust, which is behind the trial project, says ditches get clogged and need machinery to clear them.

The buffaloes can carry out the task as they can get into water, eat aquatic vegetation and swim through the channels.

A Kent Wildlife Trust spokesman said: "We’re hoping that Ham Fen might be suitable for them to stay out all year round.

"We are hoping to see results on the site within the next year."

Four of the animals, all young males, have initially been brought in.

The four new water buffaloes at Ham Fen. Picture: John Wilson, Kent Wildlife Trust
The four new water buffaloes at Ham Fen. Picture: John Wilson, Kent Wildlife Trust

They will mix with other cattle on the site and they will be monitored to assess their effect on the area's landscape and wildlife.

Ham Fen, just south west of Worth village, is a wetlands site, the last remaining fen in Kent, and it is well fenced to help keep the huge animals in. This is due to a beaver project on the same site.

KWT says these features make Ham Fen an ideal site for water buffaloes and they would mostly be in sheds over the winter.

These non-native animals have been introduced successfully at other wildlife trust areas such as in Wales.

Water buffaloes originate from the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia but are also also found in Europe, Australia, North and South America and parts of Africa.

People can stay comfortably close to the water buffaloes as they are not aggressive. Picture: John Wilson, Kent Wildlife Trust
People can stay comfortably close to the water buffaloes as they are not aggressive. Picture: John Wilson, Kent Wildlife Trust

There are at least 130 million worldwide and are widely depended on as domestic animals.

They are especially useful for tilling rice fields, and their milk is richer in fat and protein than that of dairy cattle.

The height of males is usually 1.29 to 1,33 metres (4ft 3in to 4ft 4in) up to the neck.

The length ranges from 2.4 to 3 metres (7ft 10in to 9ft 10in) and the animals range in weight from 300 to 550 kg (47st 3lb to 86st 9lb),

Water buffalo are not aggressive and have a temperament very similar to cattle.

They are part of the Bovidae family of animals like cattle, bison and antelopes.

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