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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 February, 2004, 11:06 GMT
Buffalo improve wildlife habitat
Buffalo and calf
The calves will roam over 264 acres at Teifi marshes in Cilgerran
Three Asian water buffalo calves have just made their debut at the Welsh Wildlife Centre in Cilgerran near Cardigan - with another one expected soon.

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales use the formidable beasts to help in conservation work at the 264-acre Teifi Marshes reserve.

The animals - originally from Romania - are used for grazing the wetter fen and swamp areas, which provide important habitat for wetland birds.

Water buffalo are good mothers.
Chris Lawrence, Reserve manager

In the past, cows and horses were used to keep down the grass and scrub but they proved to be fussy eaters.

The water buffalo, by contrast, graze indiscriminately and also break up scrub with their powerful horns.

There are currently six adult water buffalo at the reserve, loaned to the Wildlife Trust by a local farmer.

The Trust is so pleased with the work the herd does, it is keen to get more.

"All the calves are doing really well - and we're expecting another one any time now," said reserve manager Chris Lawrence.

Attention

"To be honest, they took us a bit by surprise, as we weren't actually expecting them to arrive until March.

"Water buffalo are good mothers. They are completely self-sufficient, so they didn't need any help.

"They behave like a herd and tend to stick together while they are pregnant, but when one is ready to drop, she will just go off and find a quiet spot, and then keep the calf away from the rest of the herd."

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales has been using Asian water buffalo on the reserve for more than three years.

The unconventional grazers have attracted quite a lot of attention in the conservation world and now other organisations are following suit.

Last year, the North Wales Wildlife Trust decided to get its own herd, to help a rare plant to re-establish on one of its reserves - Three Cornered Meadow, on the Wrexham-Chester border.

The species-rich hay meadow is home to the rare mousetail (Myosorus minimus) - a species not found anywhere else in Wales.

Water buffalo are being used to graze and poach the ground with their heavy hooves, creating the ideal conditions for the wild flower to flourish.




SEE ALSO:
Buffalo thrive on UK downland
03 Apr 03  |  England
Buffalo milk deliveries planned
04 Feb 03  |  England
Water Buffalo go wild at park
16 Apr 00  |  Wales


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