True Wild Asian Water Buffalo or Wild Asiatic Water Buffalo is an endangered species. It is thought to survive in India, Nepal, Bhutan and Thailand. It is a large ungulate and a member of the bovine subfamily and the ancestor of all the abundant Domestic Asian Water buffalo varieties and breeds which have descended from it.
The IUCN Red List of threatened species classifies "Wild Asian Water Buffalo" (B. arnee) as an endangered species. The total number of wild Asian Buffalo left is thought to be less than 4,000, which suggests that the number of mature individuals will be less than 2,500, and an estimated continuing decline of at least 20 percent within 14 years (ca. two generations) and at least 50 percent within 21 years seems likely given the severity of the threats, especially hybridization with the abundant domestic water buffalo leading to genetic pollution.
The Domestic Asian Water Buffalo, although derived from the Wild Asiatic Water Buffalo, is the product of thousands of years of selective breeding carried out by ancient Asian civilizations, especially in India.
The slightly smaller African Buffalo or Cape buffalo is not closely related to the Wild Asian Water buffalo however the African Buffalo's ancestry remains unclear. Owing to African Buffalo’s unpredictable nature which makes them highly dangerous to humans, it has not been domesticated like their Asian counterpart.
The name Bubalus bubalis was originally applied to Domestic Asian Water buffalo, but some authorities do not consider this valid for the wild population and use the specific name arnee instead. Grubb (in Wilson & Reeder 1993) mentions that bubalis is the senior synonym.
Adult water buffalo range in size from 300 kg to 600 kg for the domestic buffalo. In the wild, wild Asian water buffalo can weigh up to 800 kg for females, and males, 1200 kg. They can stand as tall as 1.8m at the shoulder, and stretch up to 2.9m in body length. However, the wild buffalo subpspecies found in the Assam state of Northern India, where they inhabit monsoon forests along the foothills of the Himalaya, are notably larger. Here, the average weight of a wild adult buffalo is 900 kg, with the male considerably larger than the female. The average height at the shoulder for a male is about 1.7m, and may reach even 2 metres. These wild buffaloes, which are of the purest breed in India, are now mostly found in the forests of Kaziranga and Manas national parks, both of which are UNESCO world heritage sites. They have also been known to spread into the northwestern region of the neighboring country, Myanmar.
With the establishment of the 20,000 km2. Hukaung Valley tiger reserve in 2004 in Mayanmar, the largest ever protected wildlife reserve, now these huge wild buffaloes may have the hope of long-term survival. They are classified as critically endangered, suffering mainly from genetic pollution caused by interbreeding with the domestic buffaloes. Interbreeding with domesticated buffaloes is the major cause of extinction of wild buffaloes. Buffaloes are believed to have originated in South Asia. Today, outside India, the true wild water buffaloes can only be found in Thailand in extremely low number of about 50 individuals, and in the Annamites range (also called Truong Son range) forests running along the border of Vietnam - Laos -Cambodia. Populations found elsewhere in Asia are feral breeds, not true wild water buffalo. These species were introduced to Argentina and Bolivia
Wild Asian Water Buffalo are threatened by genetic pollution when they come into contact with common abundant Domestic Asian Water Buffalo which live in and around forests. The domesticated animals daily graze within forests which have been designated as wildlife sanctuaries and national parks for their wild ancestors.
Wildlife and conservation scientists have started to recommend and use introduced populations of feral Domestic Asian Water buffalos in far away lands to manage uncontrolled vegetation growth in and around natural wetlands. Introduced Asian Water Buffalo at home in such environs provide cheap service by regularly grazing the uncontrolled vegetation and opening up clogged water bodies for waterfowl, wetland birds and other wildlife. The Water Buffalo is also a popular song in the kids' television show, Veggie Tales.