IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia
IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia

About buffalo again

The buffalos that were pastured around the Project site of "Wisdom from the Forest"(PWF) by their owner came into PWF field and ate all the leaves of mulberry trees and corns last year.

The owner knew about it and pastured around the buffalos. The mulberry leaves were not planted for buffalos. Of course they were for cocoons. The futile cat-and-mouse chase against the buffalos was not to be ended. The buffalos came in dark night and the village men bounced out and sometimes caught them.

We caught seven buffalos last year. Buffalos were hanging around searching for foods in dry season. So we built the fence and put an additional strengthening for the place where buffalos might come through the field. Finally, the owner submitted the letter of responsibility to us under checking by the village police officer. If the buffalos come into PWF next time, we do not have to return the buffalos.

The buffalos did not come since then last year. And also dry season in March and April of this year, we did not see the buffalos around the PWF.

But the buffalos appeared at the place near PWF organic field just before New Year in April. They were hanging around a little far from PWF at daytime and eating weed around the fence at night. We worried about them so we ask the village police officer to patrol at night.

The New Year's Angels fell down on 14 April. There is a small land of other owner's next to the PWF's pond and from there the buffalos came through the pond every year. The next day, the buffalos appeared there again. It was difficult to build the fence there. The big buffalo can go over easily the simple fence.

As I had feared, the buffalos came into our mulberry farm in the dark night. We are put on full alert. The PWF's men ran to the farm. Nine buffalos were eating the mulberry leaves. But the buffalos also moved quickly. After for a while, they all went away.

The next morning the buffalos came to the field again. They remembered the taste of delicious mulberry leaves and wanted to eat again. The PWF men ran again at the buffalos. Just then, their track bumped against a baffalo. Usually a normal car is completely crashed by bumping against 200 kilograms buffalo. But even such big buffalo can not win a track. The buffalo felt down and did not move.

The village police officer found the buffalo's owner and summoned. The owner said that buffalos ran away and he did not know where they went. But the fact was wrong.Because he knew the mulberry trees existed there and pastured his buffalos. The buffalo died at the evening.

Actually the buffalo itself was not bad. The buffalo also was the victim like us because the owner knew about it and pastured.The next day we made offerings of incense to the buffalo together with the PWF elderly women. The village police officer told us that we did not have to return the buffalo to the owner by the decision of the country police commissioner by considering about the letter of responsibility.

The day was just the first day of work after New Year day. We broke down the buffalo by ourselves and shared the meat among each home. I told that I did not want the meat but I wanted the big horn as the memory.

The frays of buffalos counts 3 years by this year. It seems not to be ended yet, even we ate the meat. At the area of Siem Reap, the farmers who grow organic vegetables are not so many. The main way is rice growing at paddy fields and just waiting for rain in rainy season. So buffalos and cows can go around anywhere.

Pigs are the same. Pigs can move free, it is the reason that growing organic vegetable are not been common at the village. Pigs dig the ground everywhere to look for foods. Sometimes vegetable farming and stock farming are opposed to each other. That is also the history of opposition between farming people and hunting people.

It is the most important topic for us that we glow cocoons and create raw silks at PWF. So our job is making the good environment to glow the mulberry trees well.It is no use for us that well grown mulberry trees are eaten by the buffalos. The owner do not even apologize for it.

In Cambodia, there is a ritual "the buffalo's honor" from a long time ago. Jarai people who belong to Mon-Khmer tribe and live in Ratanakiri province have been inheriting the honor ritual now.

The honor ritual is indigenous religious and exists before Buddhism or Hindu. It is very cruel. The buffalo is not killed at once but killed spending several days. I wondered what the real meaning of the honor is.

It is not blame for the buffalos but I might understand the simple meaning of such cruel honor. But God exist in buffalo and cow.

It is said that buffalo is rough-natured. On the other side, cow is good-natured compared to buffalo. People can go near to cow, but it is dangerous in case of buffalo.

I have a chance to talk these things to a retired police officer whom I know. He answered me with laughing that it is also our own culture. He also said the conflict between buffalo and farmer has not been ended.

We decided to build a strong fence around the mulberry farm to add to outer fence at PWF for the purpose to glow the cocoons well.

Morimoto Kikuo
Translation by Mr.Takurou MATSUOKA

update : April 28, 2009 9:42 AM

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