Searching for Water Buffalo in Berlin

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Would you believe me if I told you that there are wild water buffalo living in Berlin? I was skeptical at first too, but it's true! I actually first learned they are here while browsing Komoot for hiking inspiration. After that, I knew I had to see for myself, and it wasn't long before Nathanael and I were on our way to see the water buffalo at Tegeler Fließ for ourselves.

Water buffalo were previously endemic to much of Europe, but were only relatively recently reintroduced to Berlin wetlands. It was difficult to preserve the ecosystem, so several years ago, the Berlin government decided to reintroduce water buffalo to the marsh in an attempt to improve conservation efforts. The large animals eat invasive plants, preventing them from taking over native flora, and thereby help preserve biodiversity on the wetland. Isn't it wonderful, that just through their normal grazing behaviour, they can have such a positive effect on the natural landscape? I wish more places would take this approach to conservation.

The marsh and surrounding forest is also home to other local wildlife. The trees were full of songbirds, while our sightings included several cuckoos and a single grey heron flying across the wetland. Some of the small birds have established symbiotic relationships with the water buffalo, using them as a perch while eating the many flies that plague the large animals. The water buffalo stand patiently while the birds go to work, walking across their heads and bodies.

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So how are the photo opportunities on the trail? If you're pausing for a handheld shot, it will probably be fine to stop every so often. But depending on when you go, there probably won't be room to set up a tripod on the circular path around the wetland, however every so often a smaller short trail leads down to the fenced in fields where the water buffalo are turned out. There it's easier to set up without being in the way.                              

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Note that at least some of the fields seemed to have two fences, so if you don't want to include it in your own photos, you'll either need a long telephoto lens (I had 250mm on a crop sensor camera), or you'll need to crop your image in post production. I chose to keep the fence in the frame, because it's a hint that the animals are not completely in the wild but in a nature reserve. And here I'll add a friendly reminder to respect the landscape and the wildlife by staying outside the fences and not littering.     

Here is a video showing some of the water buffalo in Berlin, as well as their peaceful surroundings in the wetlands. Enjoy, and be sure to subscribe to my channel as I'll be sharing more video content from Berlin and abroad. 

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