Bivoli din Transilvania
‘Bivoli din Transilvania’ (Bubalus bubalis) is the local name for the Transylvania water buffalo. Buffalos have been a part of the agricultural landscape of Transylvania for thousands of years. They are the most northern representatives of their species. Their hooves are hard and well adapted to the stony ground of the mountains. Their coat is long to protect them in the harsh winters. A compact and bulky body makes the Transylvanian buffalo a robust survival act. These features clearly differentiate it from its southern colleagues. The Transylvanian buffalo has enormous stamina as a draft animal, and the milk and meat produced are delicious. The most famous and very tasty products made of the pure white, fatty milk are Telemea cheese, Smanthana (a rich sour cream), butter, and yogurt.Transylvanian buffalo are known for their cold resistance, strength, and tameness. Physically, they are black, black-brown, or very rarely, anthracite white, sometimes with white markings on their tails. Buffalos stand 120 to 160 centimetres tall with a wide, deep breast, a strong wide neck, and large, stocky head with dark eyes. Their sickle shaped horns are long, forming in the back and turning upwards and inwards. Males usually weigh from 500 to 900 kilograms, and females range from 400 to 600 kilograms. Females usually give birth after 3 years of age, with a gestation period of 311 to 315 days. Their milk has a protein content of up to 4.5%, and a fat content of up to 8%. The Transylvanian buffalo is still used and bred in its traditional area. At this moment, the population is estimated at a maximum of 15,000 heads, but this number is in decline. As recently as the 1980’s there were as many as 220,000 animals.
Image: © Bert Reinders