Agriculture minister worried by reduced Thai buffalo population

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BANGKOK, Oct 30 — Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Pitipong Phuengboon Na Ayudhaya told the press today that Thai water buffaloes could become extinct within five years as their population is dwindling.

Considering the issue as his first priority, Mr Pitipong said that the water buffalo population is falling critically by 100,000 annually due to domestic consumption and exports, and stands at 800,000 for the time being.

The annual import of 20,000 water buffaloes from neighboring countries could not solve the crisis because of the small number. If the situation continues, Thai water buffaloes could become extinct with in five years, the minister said.

He ordered the Department of Livestock Development to limit water buffalo exports, ban the export of female buffaloes to keep them for breeding, and to apply breeding technology to increase the Thai water buffalo population to 1.2 million in 10 years to prevent such extinction. He will propose extinction prevention strategies to the cabinet in two weeks.

Mr Pitipong said he was very concerned about the local population of water buffaloes because they were closely related to Thai society and culture in many dimensions.

The population of local beef cattle was also plunging because they were exported to neighboring countries where their prices were higher. There were about 4.3 million beef cattle in Thailand, Mr Pitipong said.