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The Vanishing Herds: The Wild Water Buffalo is the first such documentation on this globally endangered mega herbivore. Although It is a scientific work, it has been written with less technicaI jargon for popular reading. The text is supported by photographs, maps and illustrations, followed by an exhaustive bibliography. The ultimate aim of this work is to generate interest and awareness for conservation of this magnificent animal.
- Distribution and States
- ecology and Behaviour
- Wild, Feral and Domestic
"This is a pretty significant book for the world to read given the dire status of the animal. As the text makes clear [...] one of the main indirect threats to the animal is its low public profile, and getting a good global readership for the book would help chip away at that."
– J.W. Duckworth, 12-11-2009
"Dr. Anwaruddin Choudhury is one of India's most prolific natural history writers with an enviable credit of nearly 500 research papers and popular articles, and nearly 20 books and booklets. He is also a widely travelled naturalist, particularly in north-east India. Basically a geographer by education, his knowledge is reflected in his meticulous writings of areas, locations and habitats. Anwar also takes pictures, sometimes seemingly uninteresting at the time of photography, but he uses them very intelligently in his papers and books to emphasize a point. This book is a classical example of how good photographs can be woven into a story. In this book, one can get good information on the Wild Water Buffalo from the photographs and their captions.
The text is also a classical Anwar standard and style: meticulous research quoting even Babur-nama (1483-1531) to the latest papers (2009), including websites (latest download July 10, 2009), detailed personal observations (for example see Table 11, page 93), interesting box items (see Box 5, p 47-48), and easy-to-read text.
The book is divided into seven chapters, excluding Appendices, Glossary and Bibliography. It is sad to see from the maps how the historical distribution of the Wild Buffalo has contracted from millions of sq. km, comprising areas from southern Iran, Pakistan, India, to the whole of East Asia, to present-day distribution in a few protected areas such as Manas, Kaziranga, Dibru-Saikhowa and a few others. From millions of animals a couple of hundred years ago, the total estimated population today is not more than 5,000 globally and in India, one time its main stronghold, the total suitable habitat left for the Wild Buffalo is only 2,500 sq. km. There are only two small areas in south-east Asia, one in Thailand and another in Cambodia, where currently Wild Buffalo are reported in very small numbers, not more than 30-40 animals each. Anwaruddin has also described the famous 'Wild Buffaloes of Sri Lanka, but as he rightly says, they had originated from domestic animals, like the 'Wild Buffaloes of Australia. Interestingly, the so-called Wild Buffalos of Australia are a fair 'game and people pay hundreds of dollars
to hunt them.
The fourth chapter Ecology and Behaviour is very interesting to read. Although Anwaruddin has not worked full-time on this species (he is a full-time government officer in Assam), he has collected and collated all the information on Wild Buffalo behaviour in this chapter, and added his own observations of the last 20 years. In the next chapter, he describes the controversy of wild, domestic and hybrid buffaloes. The sixth chapter, Conservation, makes sad reading of what we have done to this majestic animal. The Wild Buffalo is not only a majestic animal, but it is extremely important for our agricultural economy, as all the domestic buffalos have originated from their wild relative. If the Government of India implements the recommendations given in the final chapter of this book, it may possibly increase the number of Wild Buffalo and perhaps reintroduce it in the areas where it was lost, such as Dudhwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh.
In a nutshell, this is a very useful book on an economically useful animal. I hope the Government of India and other range countries will take effective measures to restore, protect and save the Wild Buffalo. For this to happen, we need inter-state and international collaborations. Looking at the false pride, strained inter-state relationships and geopolitics, collaboration for Wild Buffalo conservation appears more difficult than writing a well-researched book."
– Asad R. Rahmani, Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 107(3), Sep-Dec 2010