Volume 2, Number 2 (2017) pp 84-89 doi 10.20448/803.2.2.84.89 | Research Articles
Buffaloes in Iraq represent the most productive animal since its domestication in Mesopotamia about prehistoric era. Domestic water buffaloes are common in the marshes of southern Iraq. On Sunday the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, added the marshlands and the ancient Sumerian cities that once flourished among them to its list of sites. During the period of 1991 -2003, southern Iraqi marshes were ditched and drained by the previous Iraqi regime for political reasons. The destruction and drainage of the Iraqi marshes affect the wildlife of southern Iraq. The marshes today remain one of the poorest areas. The goals of this research were to provide needed information regarding the status of buffalo following reflooding of the Mesopotamian marshlands, as well as contribute solutions or alternatives to protect buffalo from the risk of drought.
Keywords: Buffaloes, Drought , Marshlands, Solutions, Alternatives.
Citation Mudhar A. S. Abu Tabeekh; Ali Rasheed Maktoof; Hamed Abdul Majid Abdul Mohsen (2017). Solutions or Alternatives to Protect Livestock, Especially Buffalo from the Risk of Drought in Basra Governorate. Canadian Journal of Agriculture and Crops, 2(2): 84-89.
Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
Funding : This study received no specific financial support.
Competing Interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
History : Received: 28 November 2017 Revised: 12 December 2017/ Accepted: 18 December 2017/ Published: 22 December 2017
Publisher: Online Science Publishing
Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) are known to live in different habitats in Iraq including marshes, villages, and even some urban regions . The marshes of southern Iraq are crucial ecosystems, which influence, and also are influenced by many natural forces and human activities. . The values of the Marshes are numerous, including rich flora and fauna, livestock grazing fields, fish and other wildlife breeding places . Little published research could be found into the numbers or environmental impacts of water buffalo in Iraq. Basra as a sample, Abu, et al.  surveyed the water buffalo in this region including Al Dear, Al Hartha, Abu Alkhasib, Shat Alarab, Al Qurna, Al Mdaina, Imam Sadiq, Imam Qaim, Al Faw, Al Nshwa, Al Zubair and in Basra center. Draining of portions of the marshes began in the 1950s and continued through the 1970s to reclaim land for agriculture and oil exploration. During the period of 1991 -2003, wide areas of reed beds and lakes of southern Iraqi marshes were ditched and drained by the previous Iraqi regime for political reasons. The destruction and drainage of the Iraqi marshes affect the wildlife of southern Iraq . According to rare or decrease of the studies related with water buffaloes in Iraqi marshes, it's important that we focus on the study of the reality of raising buffalo in order to develop and maintain this great wealth by effective management from an economical prospective.
The marshlands constitutes about 17% of the area of Iraq as the water covers about 8.3 million acres of Iraqi land of which about 3.2 million acres covered by the waters of the marshes . The highest population density found in Mesopotamian Marshlands between three southern governorates (Basra, Thi-qar and Missan), respectively which represented the home tract of buffalo .
The marshland divided into three major areas, the Central Marshes lie between the Tigris and Euphrates, while the Hammar Marshes lie south of the Euphrates and the Hawizeh Marshes are bound east of the Tigris. Before the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, about 90% of the marshes had been drained . The marshland landscape of southern Iraq was totally drained and <10% of the area remained as functioning marshland by the year 2000. The only remaining marsh of any size was the northern portion of Hor Al- Hawizeh, which straddles the border between Iraq and Iran. The other two marshes, Central and Hor Al-Hammar, were virtually destroyed by 2000. The remaining Hor Al-Hawizeh was only 35% of its size of 3076 km2 by 2000 . The connection between marshes and buffaloes began to re-establish itself with re-flooding of the marshland areas after the second Gulf War of 2003 .
Buffalo belong to the Bovidae family and there are two main species of buffalo: the Asiatic buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and the African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) . The Asiatic water buffalo can be divided into two subspecies: the river buffalo and the swamp buffalo. The exact phylogenetic relationship between swamp and river buffalo is still in question . River buffaloes (B. bubalis bubalis) are generally large in size, mostly with curled horns, prefer to enter clear water, have 50 chromosomes. They are primarily used for milk production and, mainly found in India, Pakistan and some of the west Asian countries. Swamp buffaloes (B. bubalis carabanesis) are mostly stocky animals with marshy land habitats and have 48 chromosomes. The most updated Microsatellites markers Iraqi study showed that our buffaloes were originated in Iraq, not imported from India .
Buffalos are large in size reaching to 800 kg. The horns are curved and the animal's age can be determined from the size of the horn . The body length is about 115.2-128 cm and the chest girth is 207.2- 223.8 cm. Furthermore, water buffalo are black or gray in color, with white irregularly shaped spots that are sometimes present on the chest, legs or tail . Gestation lasts from 281–334 days, but most reports give a range between 300 and 320 days . The ideal habitats for water buffalo are floodplain environments with a mixture of abundant grasses and available water bodies. Access to water is critical for thermoregulation and often limits the ability of buffalo to seek fresher pastures . Buffalo have a relatively low number of sweat glands per unit area of skin and are highly susceptible to overheating . The buffalo stay in the marshes approximately 10-12 hours and return home each night. Milk production varies depending on the type of nutrition. Milk yield is about 4 - 5 liters when nutrition is only reed, but reaches up to 15 liters if the nutrition is of reed and concentrated foods (Corn, wheat, bran, and other grains) .
Buffaloes in Iraq has been neglected for along times and affected by many factors that lead to severe decline in population and production . According to Alsaedy  the population of buffalos in Basra governorate between 1981, 2001 and 2006 is approximately 19.1%, 12% and 11.9 respectively of buffaloes in Iraq. The population, and distribution of buffalo among the districts of Basra were reported by Abu, et al.  as shown in Tables (1):
|Table-1. The number of buffalos according to the geographical area of each veterinary clinic in Basra governorate from 2012 to 2016|
|The year||Basra center||Al Dear||Al Hartha||Abu Alkhasib||Shat Alarab||Al Qurna||Al Mdaina||Imam Sadiq||Imam Qaim||Al Zubair||Al Faw||Al|
|Source: Abu, et al. |
Water buffalo milk presents physicochemical features different from that of other ruminant species, such as a higher content of fatty acids and proteins . The physical and chemical parameters of swamp and river type water buffalo milk differ . Water buffalo milk contains higher levels of total solids, crude protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorus, and slightly higher content of lactose compared with those of cow milk. The high level of total solids makes water buffalo milk ideal for processing into value-added dairy products such as cheese. The conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content in milk ranged from 4.4 mg/g fat in September to 7.6 mg/g fat in June. Seasons and genetics may play a role in variation of CLA level and changes in gross composition of the water buffalo milk .
Generally Bubalus bubalis is a healthy animal, in spite of a natural habitat consisting of hot and humid regions that are very favorable to microorganism and parasite proliferation. The water buffalo is susceptible to most diseases and parasites that afflict cattle, although the effects of disease on the buffalo and its productivity are sometimes less evident. The most important diseases recorded in Basra governorate that affect buffalo as referred by Abu, et al.  are shown in Table (2).
|Table- 2. The most important diseases of buffalos in Basra governorate from 2011 to 2016|
|Foot and Mouth Disease||134||52||1||0||0||0|
|3 day sickness||0||45||39||0||1||23|
|Source: Abu, et al. |
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