Wild water buffalo Bubalus arnee in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal: status, population and conservation importance
The Asiatic Wild Water Buffalo Bubalus arnee is an endangered species restricted to South and Southeast Asia. Nepal’s only population survives in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve which is located on the floodplain of the Koshi River, a tributary of Ganga. This species is under threat due to high anthropogenic pressure ranging from habitat deterioration to hybridization with domestic buffalo. Yet, the population has grown from 63 in 1976 to 219 in 2009, despite the decline in the calf/cow ratio. The present study conducted in 2009 used the block count method. The count showed the presence of a backcrossed population of 74 in addition to the total of 219 individuals. At present, a number of conservation and livelihood interventions have been undertaken to safeguard the biodiversity, particularly the wild buffalo population in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. The community-based sustainable management approach benefiting both conservation and livelihood of local people is necessary to ensure the long term conservation of the species.