The sole female wild buffalo in a conservation centre at Chhattisgarh’s Sitanadi-Udanti tiger reserve died Wednesday night. The state animal is on the verge of extinction with less than 20 individuals of the species left in Chhattisgarh.
The wild buffalo was kept inside an enclosure at the reserve. The conservation centre had only one female and three males, an official said. Now, no more female wild buffalos are left in the reserve, one of the habitats of the species, according to an activist.
According to Ayush Jain, deputy director of the tiger reserve, the 7-year-old buffalo died at around midnight on Wednesday. “A post-mortem examination is being conducted on the deceased animal to understand what led to her death. Prima facie, it seems like that the animal suffered from pulmonary issues,” he said.
Incidentally, the conservation centre was attacked by Maoists a few weeks ago. They had also set some cottages inside the enclosure on fire.
The Chhattisgarh government has spent crores of rupees over the last several years to protect and grow the state animal’s population, even resorting to measures such as surrogacy and cloning, but with little success. A wild buffalo clone, born in Karnal, Haryana, was brought to state capital Raipur and has been kept at the Nandanvan Zoo. Experts, however, have cast doubt on its genealogy, saying the clone had domestic buffalo genes as well.
“Once there were hundreds of wild buffaloes in the area. But from 1986 onward, records show, their numbers have steadily declined to a point where no more female buffaloes are left inside Sitanadi-Udanti, which is one of their natural habitats,” said an environmental activist from the state.