Baby water buffalo born in Ishigaki

Baby water buffalo born in Ishigaki

On March 12, in Ishigaki, baby water buffalo Katsuzakura snuggles up to his mother Sakura. He has small horns on his head.

March 13, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

In Ishigaki, people saw the first baby water buffalo in many a year, and have named it Katsuzakura. Yoji Fukunaka, a teacher at Yaeyama Agriculture High School and Karin Heanza, a second grade student, have been taking care of the buffalos. Katsuzakura is the first baby water buffalo to be born in Ishigaki in the Heisei period, which started in 1989. On February 4, Katsuzakura was born between his father Katsujiro from Taketomi-jima and mother Sakura from Yufu-jima. Fukunaka and a vet pulled him out of his mother’s body after a struggle that lasted for an hour, because it was a difficult birth as they only saw one leg appear.

He weighed about 30 kilograms at birth, but has grown to 65 kilograms in the month since then. The naughty baby water buffalo now runs happily around his mother. Before Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty, people kept water buffalos for farming in Ishigaki. They were useful for cultivating the fields because they were comfortable working in mud in the rice paddies where horses will not go. After Okinawa returned to Japan, farmers started to use machines for farming and the number of buffalo owners gradually decreased. A small number of water buffalos currently work in Taketomi and Yufu-jima pulling carts for tourists.

Fukunaka, who keeps four of the five water buffalos on Ishigaki, was delighted to see a baby buffalo after such a long time. He said, “I want to recreate the kind of scene that was common before Ishigaki reverted to Japanese sovereignty in which many buffalos worked in the fields.” Heanzan said, “Katsuzakura is really cute.” She enjoys helping to feed and give water to the baby buffalo.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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