MIRZA, April 21 - A herd of wild water buffaloes have lately been inflicting heavy losses on the agrarian economy by repeatedly raiding a vast stretch of cropland containing boro paddy, maize, chilli, sweet potato, banana, fodder grass etc., in several villages along the Brahmaputra under Palasbari LAC in Kamrup district.
Surprisingly, the concerned forest personnel have not made any effort to drive away the marauding herd of wild water buffaloes to some other area.
A sizeable section of people at Futuri village, who are in a state of panic, lamented that till date several hectares of boro paddy, maize, chilli, sweet potato, cabbage etc., have either been devoured or damaged by the herd of wild buffaloes since the past one month.
Incidentally, it has become very difficult for the farmers to guard their standing crops in view of the ongoing lockdown. �Normally, wild water buffalo herds numbering around 8-9 take rest in the open sandy flood plains at Mohmaridia under Palasbari LAC in Kamrup district. The muscular, curved-horned herbivores often raid standing crops in over 6-7 villages located near their temporary habitat.�
�Sometimes, the wild buffalo herds move over 7-8 kms per night in search of fresh fodder, or standing crops rather. Under the circumstances, these nomadic herds need to be translocated to some other area in the collective interest of safeguarding lives of the farmers and also saving the precious food crops,� observed Naksher Ali, a farmer of Futuri village, whose standing crop has been raided repeatedly by the herd since the last several days.
According to Nayeb Ali, 42, another farmer of Futuri village, the wild buffalo herds have been witnessed frequenting the standing cropland in their village as the boro paddy seems to act like a magnet in attracting the herbivores.
�How can we survive if all our precious crops, which are our only means of sustenance, is devoured by the wild buffalo herds,� said Bapu Ali, whose only plot of boro paddy too was finished off by the browsing herd.
The farmers claimed that after nightfall, standing boro paddy and other agricultural produce of local farmers like Akbar Ali, Bapu Ali, Naksher Ali, Hasmat Ali, Amjed Ali and Kader Ali, to name only a few, were either devoured or destroyed by the marauding herds.
According to the farmers, the buffalo herds are very ferocious and liable to attack anyone they see even at a distance of 1 km. Several villagers have been injured or chased by the herd. They consider themselves lucky to be still alive and kicking, that too in one piece.
It becomes very risky to collect firewood, fodder, rear domestic buffalo and cows or even engage in agriculture due to the presence of the herd under reference. Fishermen along the Brahmaputra have also become frequent target of the lumbering black herbivores.
Domestic buffalo bulls reared by the local villagers at Mohmaridia buffalo reserve have also become the target of these wild buffalo herds. The wild denizens do not tolerate the presence of any domestic buffalo bull in the Mohmaridia buffalo reserve island, the villagers informed.
Sources pointed out that the herd of wild water buffaloes are very clever and never raid one place on two or more consecutive days. If they raid one village on a particular day, then they turn to another village the next day so as to avoid contact with the agitated victim farmers.
According to the farmers, the herd has been frequenting crops in several villages in the area, including Futuri, Bartari, Baniapara, Biturtari, Sengratari, Kalardia, Siyalmari etc., thus leading to a state of panic among the farmers, who are all along at the receiving end.
It may be mentioned here that two female wild buffaloes had taken shelter at the Mohmaridia�Siyalmari Buffalo Reserve located in the Brahmaputra sandbar under Palasbari LAC in Kamrup district about 6-7 years ago.
It is believed that the two female wild buffaloes could have drifted along the flood waters of the Brahmaputra from either Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary or Kaziranga National Park. After drifting in the floodwaters for over 150-200 km or even more through the swirling waters, the two female wild buffaloes finally swam ashore and took shelter in the Mohmaridia Buffalo Reserve island.
The herd, it seems, has taken a liking to Mohmaridia as a safe habitat as hundreds of domestic buffaloes are reared by the guwals in the Mohmaridia buffalo reserve, which is a dense grassland full of ikora, khagori, nal, jaobon and other trees, besides herbs and shrubs.
Incidentally, the two wild female buffaloes have in the meantime given birth to calves every year since the past 6-7 years. Presently, they have become a herd of 8-9 wild buffaloes, including two adult bulls.
The adversely affected farmers have therefore demanded that the herd of wild buffaloes need be tranquilised and translocated to some wildlife sanctuary.
�The wild buffaloes could be shifted to the nearby Manas National Park or even other sanctuaries,� observed a nature lover on condition of anonymity.
Sources informed that tranquilising wild buffaloes was a very difficult proposition as they were very ferocious, extremely strong and bulky animals. Once tranquilised, they run the risk of running into the nearby river and drowning.
It may be mentioned here that the herd of wild buffaloes, an endangered species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, could be the target of a mob attack sooner or later, given the amount of damage the herd has repeatedly inflicted on the aggrieved villagers.
Hence, it may be prudent on the part of the authorities concerned to rescue the wild buffalo herd and translocate them to some sanctuary in the greater interest of wildlife preservation.