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Malnutrition suspected cause of water buffalo deaths in Taiwan's Yangmingshan

18 water buffalo have died in Yangmingshan National Park since Nov. 30

Two dozen water buffalo have died in Yangmingshan this year, eight times the norm. 

Two dozen water buffalo have died in Yangmingshan this year, eight times the norm.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taipei City Animal Protection Office said Monday (Dec. 21) that malnutrition is the suspected cause of the recent spate of water buffalo deaths in Yangmingshan National Park, according to initial findings.

Yangmingshan National Park Administration statistics show that 24 wild water buffalo deaths have been recorded this year, 18 of which occurred between Nov. 30 and Dec. 19. The deaths are seen as highly unusual given that only three to four water buffalo deaths per year are the norm in the national park.

The bodies were sent to the National Taiwan University School of Veterinary Medicine for testing, while a team of vets and animal health specialists launched an investigation to determine the cause of death. Visitors were warned to stay away from areas frequented by the water buffaloes to avoid the potential transmission of infectious disease.

Following a meeting of experts on Monday, the Taipei City Animal Protection Office said that infectious diseases, pesticides, and fences have been ruled out as the cause of the animals' demise. It said the experts believe that the deaths were caused by long-term malnutrition, the result of grassland degradation, and drastic weather changes.

The office explained that while there are plenty of grasses in the area, they contain little protein or minerals. Cattle can still suffer from insufficient nutrition even when they have enough grass to eat.

The office said it has recommended that the park administration place salt bricks and dried grass in areas where the animals congregate as an emergency response. It added that the park will check on the animals more frequently to avoid similar incidents in the future, reported CNA.