Carpathian Buffalo

The Ukrainian Carpathian Buffalo inhabits the area of Zakarpathia-Oblast in Ukraine.

It originates from the Mediterranean type of water buffalo and is closely related to the Carpathian Buffalo of Romania, as well as the Danubian buffalo.

This domestic Water Buffalo breed is very well adapted to its surroundings, since it already inhabits the Carpathian Mountains for at least 1500 years. The adaptation to the local climate, and human selection made the Carpathian buffalo very sturdy, low demanding and very productive in terms of milk.

The adult Carpathian buffalo has black fur and grey skin, the juveniles are mainly black-brownish. The fur is quite thick and about 10-15 cm long. The hooves are hard, adapted to the stony ground of the mountains. Its compact and bulky body and a height of about 135cm also show its adaptation to mountain climate. The horns of the Carpathian buffalo grow along the neck and are slightly curved. They can be up to 80 cm long. The weight of females is up to 700 kg and males up to 850 kg.

A Carpathian buffalo can live about 35 years, the cows are giving birth to healthy babies up to an age of 30. The pure breed is nowadays highly endangered. More than 100 years ago there have been thousands of Buffalos in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine. But with rising industrialisation the buffalo began to lose its value as a workforce, and people abandoned buffalo husbandry, leading to a rapid decrease of the population. The buffalos which stayed were mainly kept for milk production, which lead to the biggest threat for the breed today: in order to improve the milking characteristics of the buffalos, Indian Murrah buffalo mixbreeds from Bulgaria have been introduced to the breed. Due to this development, pure breed Carpathian buffalos got less and less, and are even today hard to find.

But the Carpathian buffalos are not only special for their sturdiness, they also convince with their calm temper.

In summertime the buffalos can be kept outside or in an open stable, winter months as December, January and February require a closed stable as a shelter against ice, snow and extraordinary cold temperatures. It feeds perfectly on grass, hay and straw, additional food is only required for improving work force or raising milk production.

Rosa Luxemburg about the Carpathian Waterbuffalo

"In the yard where I walk, military wagons often arrive, packed full with sacks, or old uniforms and shirts often spotted with blood.... They are unloaded here, passed out in the cells, mended, then reloaded, and delivered tot he military. The other day, such a wagon came drawn by water buffaloes rather than horses. This was the first time that I saw these animals up close. They are built sturdier and broader than our oxen, with flat heads, their horns bent flat, their skulls rather resembling the skulls of our own sheep; the buffaloes are completely black with large soft eyes. They come from Rumania, they are trophies of war.... Anyway a few days ago, a wagon loaded with sacks drove into the prison. The cargo was piled so high that the buffaloes could not make it over the threshold of the gateway. The attending soldier, a brutal character, began to beat away at the animals with the heavy end of his whip so savagely that the overseer indignantly called him to account. 'Don't you have any pity for the animals?' 'No one has any pity for us people either!' he answered with an evil laugh, and fell upon them even more forcefully.... Finally, the animals started up and got over the hump, but one of them was bleeding.... Sonitschka, buffalo hide is proverbial for its thickness and toughness, and it was lacerated.

Rosa Luxemburg in BerlinThen, during the unloading, the animals stood completely still, exhausted, and one, the one that was bleeding, all the while looked ahead with an expression on its black face and in its soft black eyes like that of a weeping child. It is exactly the expression of a child who has been severely punished and who does not know why, what for, who does not know how to escape the torment and brutality.... How far, how irretrievably lost, are the free, succulent, green pastures of Rumania! How different it was with the sun shining, the wind blowing; how different were the beautiful sounds of birds, the melodious calls of shepherds. And here: the strange weird city, the fusty stable, the nauseating mouldy hay mixed with putrid straw, the strange, horrible people - and the blows, blood running from the fresh wound...."

'We both,' Rosa added, 'stand here so powerless and spiritless and are united only in pain, in powerlessness and in longing....'

"Meanwhile, the prisoners bustled busily about the wagon, unloading the heavy sacks and carrying them into the building. The soldier, however, stuck both hands into his pockets, strolled across the yard with great strides, smiled and softly whistled a popular song. And the whole glorious war passed in front of my eyes.... Write quickly. I embrace you, Sonitschka.

Your Rosa

Sonitschka, dearest, in spite of it all, be calm and cheerful. That's life and that's how one must take it: courageously, intrepidly and smilingly - in spite of all."

Citation taken from: S. Bronner (ed.), The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg (New Brunswick, New Jersey, Humanities Press, 1993)