An overview of disease-free buffalo breeding projects with reference to the different systems used in South Africa
This paper describes the successful national program initiated by the South African government to produce disease-free African buffalo so as to ensure the sustainability of this species due to threats from diseases. Buffalo are known carriers of foot-and-mouth disease, bovine tuberculosis, Corridor disease and brucellosis. A long-term program involving multiphase testing and a breeding scheme for buffalo is described where, after 10 years, a sustainable number of buffalo herds are now available that are free of these four diseases. A large portion of the success was attributable to the use of dairy cows as foster parents with the five-stage quarantine process proving highly effective in maintaining the “disease-free” status of both the calves and the foster cows. The projects proved the successfulness of breeding with African buffalo in a commercial system that was unique to African buffalo and maintained the “wildness” of the animals so that they could effectively be released back into the wild with minimal, if any, behavioral problems.