x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Buffalo fly from India to farm near Al Ain

According to Indian exporters, the hand-picked cows were en route to an Al Ain farm when they left Punjab two weeks ago.

Ten pregnant water buffalo were trotted through the halls of an Indian airport two weeks ago as they prepared to board a chartered flight to Abu Dhabi.

The unusual passengers were airlifted on June 28 at 11pm, said officials at Amritsar Airport.

"There was a big to-do about it and special crates were made to transport them so that they don't run into each other," said I L Bhatia, head of cargo at Amritsar Airport.

The jet-setting beasts, which weigh around 450kg each, were hand-picked from farms in Punjab after a team of experts from Abu Dhabi spent 15 days testing and evaluating them, according to Dr D S Chawla, owner of Gurdev Livestock Trading, which exported the animals.

The cows were destined for a farm near Al Ain owned by a high-profile resident of the capital, he said. "Already, one buffalo has given birth to a male calf. They are going to breed and the number will increase to 20 in the coming days."

Murrah buffalo, considered among the best in the world, are native to the Punjab and Haryana states of India. A single cow costs around Dh6,600.

"They yield six to 12 litres of milk every day and are of a very high quality," Dr Chawla said. "This is not the first time we are doing it. In 2006, we also sent 45 buffalo to Abu Dhabi. The quality of their milk is very much appreciated there."

He said the animals were five and six years old.

"A special licence was obtained from the government of India to airlift them. Initially they placed an order for 20 animals but it was changed to 10 later on," Dr Chawla said.

Mr Bhatia added: "It was a three to three-and-a-half-hour Air Shagoon cargo flight and the parties transporting them were at pains to ensure that nothing would go wrong."