Habitat use and conservation threats to Wild Water Buffalo Bubalus arnee (Mammalia: Artiodactyla: Bovidae) in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal

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Reeta Khulal
Bijaya Neupane
Bijaya Dhami
Siddhartha Regmi
Ganesh Prasad Tiwari
Manita Parajuli


Wild Water Buffalo (WWB) Bubalus arnee is an endangered species and a protected animal in Nepal. The remaining WWB population is located in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (KTWR), and it appears to have low viability under prevailing conditions. We assessed the habitat use and conservation threats to wild water buffalo in KTWR. For habitat analysis the quadrant method was used. Eighty-four quadrants of 25 m2 for trees, 168 quadrants of 10m2 for shrubs and 336 quadrants of 1 m2 for herbs were laid out in the study area. Ivlev’s electivity index (IV) was calculated to assess the use of different habitat components. The important Value Index (IVI) was used for vegetation assessment. A relative threat ranking method was used to assess conservation threats for wild buffalo and their habitats. Wild buffalo mostly preferred habitats with distance to water resources less than 500 m (IV= 0.4), less than 25 % crown coverage (IV= 0.39) and more than 75 % ground coverage (IV= 0.42). The trees species Phyllanthus emblica, Acacia catechu, shrub species Mimosa pudica and the herb species Brachiaria distachya, Vetiveria zizanioides, Imperata cylindrica, and Saccharum spontaneum were preferred by WWB in the study area. Among the different plant categories, we found that Acacia catechu was the most preferred tree species (IVI= 156.95), Mimosa pudica the most preferred shrub species (IVI= 58.68), and Imperata cylindrica the most preferred herb species (IVI= 64.73). Major conservation threats perceived by local stakeholders for wild buffaloes were overgrazing by cattle and genetic swamping through crossbreeding with domestic buffalo. Therefore, conservation of grass species through control of grazing, and prevention of cross breeding are measures supported by this study. Additionally, site-specific conservation strategies should be adopted, based on identified threats in the study area.

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