Water Buffalo History
Buffalo are fast becoming a new industry in Australia. This is largely because of new people from overseas. India has a huge buffalo herd and people leaving those shores are bringing along traditional foods. Italy is another country that has large buffalo dairy herds and buffalo mozzarella is synonymous with Italian cuisine. Our original straws of Italian buffalo semen came from there.
Buffalo are ideal for a small home based dairy as they have a fondness for people, and are quiet and easy to handle. We work on our animals from an early age to make sure that it is so.
Buffaloes were brought into Australia around 1870. Not all that long after the arrival of the first fleet. They came from Indonesia and arrived at Port Essington on the South Alligator River in the Northern Territory. The settlers had no idea of what happens in the Northern Territory during the wet, and they built the first settlement on the flood plains. Of course once the river flooded their small settlement was nine foot under water. When the supply ship arrived only three people remained alive and therefore Port Essington was abandoned,- along with the buffalo. The buffalo thrived and it was not long before large wild herds spread across the top end.
To add to this situation, another settlement was established on the Daley River and buffalo were again imported from Indonesia. But the settlers had not learned from the debacle at Port Essington and built once again on the flood plain. This settlement was called Port Keats and like Port Essington was swamped during the wet. It too was abandoned and again the buffalo were left behind.
This spread the buffalo across the Wagiat floodlands towards the West Australian border. Nothing more was done until just after the First World War, when they began exporting hides. The shooting of buffalo for hides lasted until the start of World War 2. It was closed down and never restarted; so this great resource was allowed to build into massive herds until the early fifties, when mobile abattoirs were brought into to process the animal. Although this seemed like a good idea, there was a problem with the hot climate, so after a couple of years it was abandoned. Once again the buffalo were overlooked as a domestic animal. This was until the late sixties when abattoirs were built at Opium Creek, Mudginberri and Katherine.