An Interview with a Water Buffalo by Alex Berg

The following interview was conducted on behalf of the United Water Buffalo Water BuffaloCouncil, an organization dedicated to preserving the rich history and culture of this magnificent creature.

First off, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.

My pleasure. I’ve always fancied myself to be a good subject for an interview; I suppose we shall soon find out if this is the case.

Indeed. Let’s get the basics out of the way first- where are you from?

I’ve lived in India my entire life, and currently make my home in Arunachal Pradesh, which is in the northeastern part of the country.

Indian VillageDo you like it there?

Oh yes, very much. I find the local villagers to be incredibly respectful of the fragile ecology of my home- they don’t practice very many aggressive agricultural techniques, and so I’ve found that there hasn’t been much of a need to gore any of them.

I take it that this has been necessary in the past?

Well… I suppose that’s depends what the criteria are for a “necessary goring”…

That’s another conversation altogether.

Ha- I suppose it is. To answer your question, I’ve never been an advocate for goring as a means of conflict resolution, but growing up in the wild, it can be hard to avoid. Water buffalo have a reputation for attacking without having been provoked and all matter of terrible things, and that reputation does, sadly, have a basis in reality. Especially as an adolescent buffalo growing one’s horns out for the first time, the temptation to use them can be overwhelming. That having been said, charging and goring is a bull’s primary means of defending his family, and I wouldn’t want anybody to have to first use these techniques while squaring off against a Bengal tiger.

I see. Is there a lot of tension between the buffalo and the tiger?

Not as much as you might think. At the base of it all, tigers are carnivorous. To them, I am little more than an 1100-kilo buffet cart. On the other hand, we buffalo are proud, and are thus no easy prey. No tiger will ever catch a water buffalo alone or off his guard, and thus the tiger have learned to leave us alone, for the most part. It’s an uneasy truce, but it has, for the most part, been upheld by both sides.

I take it there aren’t too many buffalo hunting tiger, then.

Ha- no, I suppose not. Like all ungulates, we’re herbivores, and we like it that way. Who wants to spend so much energy chasing down fatty prey when grass is so bountiful and nutritious? Not me.

Many water buffalo have abandoned the tradition of wild living, opting for domestication. Have you ever considered allowing yourself to be domesticated?


And why not?

Call me old-fashioned, but I firmly believe that living in the wild builds character. Domesticated buffalo aren’t able to do anything on their own. I recall running into a fellow who had escaped from a farm a couple years back. He was starving, and didn’t know to eat the grass he was standing on! Can you imagine? He then proceeded to ask us if we needed him to draw any of our plough carts, and the lot of us laughed so hard that he ran away and we never saw him again. I suspect he was eventually eaten by leopards.

Do you have any domesticated friends?

No, and I don’t think that I ever will. I don’t want to come off as prejudiced against domesticates, but they lack a certain… je ne sais quois… a certain “edge” if you will. Living in captivity, being bathed regularly, being fed, it makes them dull. That’s not a pun about their horns; by the way, I just mean that you can’t have a conversation with them about anything. They know nothing outside of the village in which they work, which is understandable and I don’t fault them for it. However, they don’t seem to care that that’s the case. No domesticate I’ve ever met has even shown a desire to go to Bhutan, or Nepal, or Bangladesh to learn what other buffalo are like or to enrich themselves. It isn’t that their narrow-mindedness isn’t beaten into them so much as the natural inquisitiveness which makes all buffalo so interesting is somehow beaten out, and I can’t abide by that.

I see. Well, that’s all the time we’ve got for today. Thanks once more for taking the time to sit down with me, and thank you for not goring me on sight.

Don’t thank me yet! You’ve still got to make it out of the studio.

I… uh…

Just kidding.


I don’t gore on weekdays!


Another joke… perhaps in poor taste. I apologize.

Gee, thanks Alex for letting us pilfer another of your old blog posts. Alex Berg is now artistic director of UCB Theatre in LA.

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