The carabao (Filipino: kalabaw; Malay: kerbau) or Bubalus bubalis carabanesis is a subspecies of the domesticated water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) found in the Philippines, Guam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and various parts of Southeast Asia. Carabaos are associated with farmers, being the farm animal of choice for pulling both a plow and the cart used to haul produce to the market.
Carabaos, which are a type of water buffalo domestic to Southeast Asia, feed off grass and other similar kinds of vegetation. These foods are found on the natural lands of their habitats. In the wild, carabaos can be found on grassy lands near water expanses such as lakes and wide rivers. In locations such as the Philippines and Malaysia, the carabao is commonly domesticated and used on a farm. It is often the animal of choice to pull a cart or wagon to a market, or pull a plow in a farmer's field. The carabao can also be kept for its milk, and may eventually be slaughtered for meat produce.
The Philippine Carabao Center, located in the Philippines, is a research center that aims to investigate the carabao mammal. Primarily, scientists there work to create more efficient methods of managing the carabao, due to its many uses. The mammal can provide labor and milk, and be raised and slaughtered for its hide and meat. The research center has produced the first ever 'test tube' carabao, which was genetically produced in a laboratory in 2004; the female created was named Glory. The center aims to look at breeding methods, which could be used to produce particularly large carabaos that have the ability to provide large quantities of milk on a daily basis.
- Agriculture in Southeast Asia
Southeastern countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines could be said to be '30 years behind' when it comes to agriculture. Their methods of farming are yet unrefined, although many improvements are being made due to international help and intervention. Many families in such locations rely on good farming methods in order to generate a basic income.
Carabaos are indigenous to Southeast Asia. Adult carabaos weigh seven to eight hundred kilograms—almost 2,000 pounds—and have fairly long gray or black hair thinly covering their huge bodies. They have a tuft of hair on their forehead, and at the tip of their tail. Normally, they are silent and docile, but they will give a trembling snort if they are surprised.
Both male and female have massive horns. Since the carabao has no sweat glands, it cools itself by lying in a waterhole or mud during the heat of the day. Mud, caked on to its body, also protects it from bothersome insects.
The carabao eats grass and other vegetation, feeding mainly in the cool of the mornings and evenings. In some places of the world the carabao is a source of milk just like the cow, or it may be slaughtered for its hide and its meat. Its life span is 18 to 20 years and the female carabao can deliver one calf each year.
The carabao is considered a national symbol of Guam. They were imported from the Philippines in the late 17th century during the Spanish colonial administration of Guam as a beast of burden and as a means of transportation. They were used for farming and to pull "carabao carts." As recently as the early 1960s, carabao races were a popular sport in the island, especially during fiestas.
Today, carabaos are a part of the popular culture in this American territory. Carabaos are often brought to carnivals or other festivities and used as a popular ride for kids. Carabao meat is sometimes eaten as a delicacy, although this is not common these days.
While carabaos were fairly common in Guam before the 20th century, with a population numbering in the thousands, today they are rare in most parts of the island. The exception is in the U.S. Naval Magazine in the village of Santa Rita, where the carabaos were protected from hunters as the Naval Magazine is fenced on all sides. The carabao population of Naval Magazine has grown to several hundred, to the point that they have become a pest and cause environmental damage and pollute the Naval water supply in the Fena Reservoir. In 2003, the Navy, in a controversial move that was protested by many Chamorro people, began a program of extermination to control the carabao population of Naval Magazine.