Ecologist Rene Krawczynski, a water buffalo expert from the Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus, is convinced the 500-kilo animals could offer new chances to regional farmers with swampy land.
He and Wolfram Hotzler, head of the Sielow Agriculture Association have five water buffalo on trial at a farm, munching their way through the plants in a soggy field since early July.
“The animals have settled in well here. They are very peaceful and calm, and can even be stroked,” Hotzler said.
“Water buffalo feel particularly happy in wet areas,” said Krawczynski. “Having them on the land puts the wet areas back into a natural state. The animals create good conditions for rare birds like the lapwing, or amphibians like the fire-bellied toad.”
The numbers and variety of insects on a piece of land increase with water buffalo – breeding in the wallow patches – and those in turn contribute to a more lively food chain as they are eaten by birds.
“The aim is to protect species by using water buffalo,” said Krawczynski.
Other pilot projects have proved successful in England and Greece as well as southern areas of Germany too sodden for horses or cows.
Water buffalo milk can be used to make Mozarella cheese, while their meat is also considered tasty and low in fat, making it popular in some restaurants.