Carabao (Filipino: Kalabaw) is a swamp-type domestic water buffalo
(Bubalus bubalis) native to the Philippines. Water buffaloes were
probably introduced to the
Philippines by Malay immigrants around 300
to 200 AC. It is declared by Philippine President Aguinaldo to be the
national animal of the Philippines due to its aid in the First
Philippine Revolution. In modern times, the carabao's declaration as
the national animal is justified by schools through its hardworking
4 In the Philippines
5 In Guam
6 In Malaysia
7 See also
The word carabao is from Spanish, derived from Visayan
karabàw.[self-published source] Cognates include Tagalog kalabáw,
Cebuano kábaw, Javanese kebo, Malay kerbau, and Indonesian Dutch
karbouw. The ultimate origin of the word is an unidentified
Austroasiatic language via Malay. The female is called a caraballa.
Minangkabau people of
Indonesia take their name from the cognate
in their Malayic language, the Minangkabau language.
Caraballa and calf in the Philippines
Carabaos have the low, wide, and heavy build of draught animals. They
vary in colour from light grey to slate grey. The horns are
sickle-shaped or curve backward toward the neck. Chevrons are common.
Albinoids are present in the proportion of about 3% of the buffalo
population. Mature male carabaos weigh 420–500 kg
(930–1,100 lb), and females 400–425 kg
(882–937 lb). Height at withers of the male ranges from
127–137 cm (50–54 in), and of the female from
124–129 cm (49–51 in).
Water buffaloes imported to the
Cambodia in the early
20th century are called "Cambodian carabaos". They have white or
yellowish hair on a pinkish skin, but the eyes, hooves, and mouth are
dark, and the skin may be speckled. They are slightly bigger and have
larger horns. Males weigh on average 673 kg (1,484 lb) and
measure 141 cm (56 in) at the withers.
Water buffaloes are well adapted to a hot and humid climate. Water
availability is of high importance in hot climates since they need
wallows, rivers, or splashing water to reduce the heat load and
thermal stress. Swamp buffaloes prefer to wallow in a mudhole that
they make with the horns. Their objective is to acquire a thick
coating of mud. They thrive on many aquatic plants and in time of
flood will graze submerged, raising their heads above the water and
carrying quantities of edible plants. They eat reeds, the giant reed,
bulrush, sedges, the common water hyacinth, and rushes. Green fodders
are used widely for intensive milk production and for fattening. Many
fodder crops are conserved as hay, chaffed, or pulped. Trials in the
Philippines showed that the carabao, on poor-quality roughage, had a
better feed conversion rate than cattle.
The carabao 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 feeds mainly in the cool of the
mornings and evenings. Its lifespan is 18 to 20 years and the female
carabao can deliver one calf each year.
In the Philippines
Carabao cart Philippines
Malay immigrants probably introduced water buffaloes in the period 300
to 200 BC. Later Chinese settlers also brought water buffaloes that
are sometimes referred to as "Shanghai buffaloes". Carabaos are widely
distributed in all the larger islands of the Philippines. Early in the
20th century, water buffaloes were imported from
Cambodia for work in
sugarcane plantations; Cambodian carabaos are larger and have bigger
horns. Murrah buffaloes were first introduced from
India in 1917. A
few representatives of the
Niliravi breed have also been acquired. The
word carabao is now used for the imported river type buffaloes, as
well as for the local swamp buffaloes.
The hardened hide of a carabao (left) and a cow (right), displayed in
the Crisologo Museum, in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines
Carabao hide was once used extensively to create a variety of
products, including the armor of precolonial Filipino warriors.
In 1993, the
Philippine Carabao Center
Philippine Carabao Center was established to conserve,
propagate, and promote the carabao as a source of draft animal power,
meat, milk, and hide to benefit the rural farmers through carabao
genetic improvement, technology development and dissemination, and
establishment of carabao-based enterprises, thus ensuring higher
income and better nutrition. The National Water Buffalo
Gene Pool in
Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, is a facility for continuous selection, testing,
and propagation of superior breeds of dairy buffaloes.
In 2003, 3.2 million carabao were in the Philippines; 99%
belonged to small farmers who have limited resources, low income, and
little access to other economic opportunities.
One of the many reasons for the failure of the attempted Japanese
pacification of the
Philippines during their 1941–1945 occupation
was their indifference to the basics of the Filipino economy. The
carabaos provided the necessary labor that allowed Filipino farmers to
grow rice and other staples. Japanese army patrols would not only
confiscate the rice, but would also slaughter the carabaos for meat,
thereby preventing the farmers from growing enough rice to feed the
large population. Before World War II, an estimated three million
carabaos inhabited the Philippines. By the end of the war, an
estimated nearly 70% of them had been lost.
The old payatak method of farming is still the method of choice in
Northern Samar. The soil of the rice paddy is first softened with
rainwater or diverted watershed, then the farmer guides a group of
carabaos in trampling the planting area until it is soggy enough to
receive the rice seedlings. This time-consuming task produces lower
yields and lower income when compared with the advancement in
irrigated fields. In the late 1980s, the carabao puppet character
Kardong Kalabaw became popular as a symbol of the Filipino people's
hard work and sense of industry.
Carabao (water buffalo) race, Pulilan, Bulacan, Philippines. This
picture was taken around the time of the
Carabao Festival honoring the
patron San (Saint) Isidro.
Carabao racing is a widely popular sport among farmers and carabao
enthusiasts in the Philippines. In central and southern
feast is highlighted with carabaos racing up towards the finish line.
Training and conditioning of the race carabao to its full extent is a
serious job. Farmers and their trustworthy carabaos gather together to
race in a 500 metres (1,600 ft) dirt road. Spectators fill up
this unique spectacle, some betting on their best carabaos, others
watch for the thrill. The carabaos, geared with their carts on their
back, race together with their dear farmer to win prizes. The race is
divided into two classes, one for amateur or first time carabao racers
and the other is for the veteran carabao racers. A race carabao can be
bought for P35,000 to P60,000, with the price increasing with the
number of races that it wins. Proven race winners can command a price
as high as P200,000.
Carabaos were introduced to
Guam by Spanish missionaries in the 17th
century from domestic stock in the
Philippines to be used as beasts of
burden. A feral herd on the US Naval Magazine in central
classified as protected game, but the population has been declining
since 1982, most likely due to illegal hunting.
Carabaos were used for farming and for pulling carts. They were fairly
Guam before the 20th century, with a population numbering in
the thousands. Today, they are rare in most parts of the island except
in the US Naval Magazine near the village of Santa Rita, which 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 caused environmental damage, and polluted the water supply in the
Fena Reservoir. In 2003, the Navy began a program of extermination to
control the carabao population of Naval Magazine, a move that was
protested by many Chamorro people.
The carabao is considered a symbol of Guam. In the early 1960s,
carabao races were a popular sport in the island, especially during
fiestas. Today, carabaos are a part of the popular culture. They are
often brought to carnivals or other festivities, and are used as a
popular ride for children.
Carabao meat is sometimes eaten as a
The carabao is the official animal of the state of Negeri Sembilan,
Military Order of the Carabao
^ FAO 2013. Philippine Carabao/
Philippines In: Domestic Animal
Diversity Information System. Food and Agriculture Organization of the
United Nations, Rome.
^ Aquino, Dante M.; Persoon, Gerald A. (2013). "Tradition and Change:
Beer Consumption in Northeast Luzon, Philippines". In Schiefenhovel,
Wulf; Macbeth, Helen. Liquid Bread: Beer and Brewing in Cross-Cultural
Perspective. Volume 7 of Anthropology of Food & Nutrition.
Berghahn Books. p. 197. ISBN 9781782380344. Retrieved August
^ Roberts, E. A. (2014). A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of
the Spanish Language with Families of Words based on Indo-European
Roots. Volume I (A–G). Xlibris LLC. p. 311.
^ "Kabaw". Binisaya – Cebuano Dictionary and Thesaurus. Bin.
Retrieved August 10, 2017.
^ a b c d Cockrill, W. R., ed. (1977). The Water Buffalo (PDF). Animal
Production and Health Series No. 4. Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations. ISBN 9251001081.
^ a b Borghese, A., Mazzi, M. (2005). Buffalo Population and
Strategies in the World. Pages 1–39 in Borghese, A. (ed.) Buffalo
Production and Research. REU Technical Series 67. Inter-regional
Cooperative Research Network on Buffalo, FAO Regional Office for
^ Bulletin – United States National Museum. Smithsonian Institution
Press. 1917. p. 107.
Philippine Carabao Center
Philippine Carabao Center (2011). Annual Report[permanent dead
link]. Department of Agriculture.
^ Schmidt, L. S. (1982). American Involvement in the Filipino
Resistance on Mindanao During the Japanese Occupation, 1942–1945.
M.S. Thesis. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
^ Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8-18-2007. Archived October 28, 2007, at
the Wayback Machine.
^ Alfie Vera Mella, May Natutunan Ka Ba kay Kiko Matsing?, The
Filipino Journal, archived from the original on February 11, 2009,
^ Conry, P. J. (1988). Management of feral and exotic game species on
Guam. Transactions of the Western Section of the Wildlife Society 24:
^ (in Malay) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 13,
2008. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carabao.
National symbols of the Philippines
Coat of arms
"Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa"
Barong and Baro't saya
Juan de la Cruz
Marcelo H. del Pilar
Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat
Domestic water buffalo breeds