Not everyone is lucky to see the legendary African savannas in person. And most of the time, the best you can do is watch the African wilderness on TV. However, Balıkesir's endless meadows, prairies, wetlands and rivers bring the pastoral images of African savannas close to you.Water buffalo herds that spend the winter in barns are let out to the meadows when spring comes, offering scenic views to locals and visitors.Balıkesir's Yakupköy village is home to these scenic views. Five-hundred families live in the village and 350 of them breed water buffaloes.
Water buffalo breeder and shepherd Mehmet Dinçer has been involved in buffalo breeding for the last 15 years and he has been shepherding the buffaloes for the last three years. He said that water buffaloes are animals that are keen on their freedom and it is hard for them to spend all their time in the barns.
Dinçer, 38, takes out his herd at the first light of the day and returns them to their owners at night.
"I take the animals around 8 a.m. but the time of their return changes according to the season. Water buffaloes love the wildlife and living in the barns is not for them. However, when it rains and snows, they prefer to bev inside. They love water and mud. After spending time in the meadows, they head to the rivers to swim. These animals cannot live without water. It is a delight to watch them crossing or swimming in the river," said Dinçer.
Water buffaloes are wild animals, however, they are known to be quite easy going with their shepherds and owners. When they feel any threat, they tend to protect their surroundings.Dinçer said water buffalo breeding has been practiced in the region for a long time now."Water buffalo breeding is hard but it is quite profitable now," said Dinçer. "Water buffalo breeding has been practiced in this village for centuries. For a while, breeders started to quit the job and this profession was about to die. However, the profit is good now. We can sell the milk, cream and yogurt for a good price," he added.
There are about 3,000 water buffaloes around Balıkesir. The producers sell the milk of the buffaloes for TL 5 (approximately $1.22) per kilogram, yogurt for TL 9 per kilogram, cheese for TL 35 per kilogram and cream for TL 60 per kilogram.
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