THE water buffalo have returned for another summer grazing the Teifi Marshes nature reserve.

Five adult female buffalo arrived last week and will be at the Cilgerran site managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales until the autumn.

Water buffalo are fantastic conservation grazers and do a very important job for wildlife. Unlike cattle or ponies, water buffalo love getting their feet wet and wallowing in pools on the marsh.

They keep down invasive plants like willow scrub and reed mace and the pools they create for wallowing provide excellent habitat for damselflies, dragonflies, frogs, toads and newts.

These in turn provide an important food source for our resident otters and for birds such as egrets and herons.

People and wildlife officer Nia Stephens said “”The buffalo can easily be seen from the otter hide on the wetland trail and sometimes from the main visitor car park.

“Visitors should be aware that the fence around the buffalo enclosure is an electric fence and care should be taken especially with children and dogs.”

The water buffalo were first introduced to the Teifi Marshes back in 2002 and are ideally suited to graze and keep the marsh healthy.

Ponies had previously been utilised, but experience showed they were selective feeders, interested in only the lushest grass, so allowing scrub species, like bracken, rushes and brambles, to spread onto the marsh.

Best of all the buffalo do not only tolerate the wetter areas of the marsh, where wellies disappear into a sea of mush, they actively seek it out.

In hot weather they love to wallow in mud, sometimes immersing themselves in ponds and streams. In this way not only are they keeping the marsh clear of damaging invasive species, such as gorse, reedmace and willow carr, they keep pools and streams open.