The water buffalo found in the northern part of Australia are impressive and fascinating, but they are not indigenous—and they are, in fact, something of a menace. Introduced into Australia in the 1800s as work animals and as a way to supply milk and meat to settlers in remote, northern settlements, these heat-tolerant mammals from Asia went feral when settlements failed or were abandoned. The now-wild buffalo multiplied to a point where they began to present serious problems.
First, they trashed the local ecology. They trampled shorelines, destroyed bird-breeding areas, and generally demolished delicate ecosystems. Second big problem is that they carry diseases that both indigenous animals and domestic cattle could catch. So they aren’t popular.
On top of that, they can be dangerous. In Crocodile Dundee, Paul Hogan’s character was able to hypnotize a massive buffalo that blocked his path, but this is not how they normally react to humans. While they might run away, they might not. They can weigh up to 3/4 of a ton, and their horns can measure ten feet from tip to tip—so if they decide to attack, you’re in trouble. And even if they just step out in front of your car as you’re driving down the road, you’re not going to survive slamming into a 1,500-pound wall of muscle.
Efforts to reduce the number of feral water buffalo in the Top End have been successful, but the Australian Park Service must remain vigilant, so the numbers don’t rebound. However, though numbers are reduced, you can still see an occasional water buffalo in the wilder regions of Australia’s north.