Carpathian "Elephants"


Precious Salt



‘ELEPHANTS ‘ is the local nickname for buffaloes which are kept in a few villages in the lowlands near rivers and ponds. They are called elephants because of their strength. The male buffalo is used as a draught animal and can easily pull a heavily loaded cart which would be too much for an ox. They are also used in the large woods skirting the river Tisa to drag the felled trunks to the water’s edge ready to be floated downstream. These sturdy animals are steady, persevering and efficient workers. The only thing against them is that sometimes they get out of hand and, for no apparent reason, start running madly, whether or no they are harnessed to a cart. Once they run amok, they may gallop for miles and it is impossible to stop them until they reach a river or marsh with plenty of reeds. There they come to a halt of their own accord ; for they like nothing better than to wallow in wet, marshy ground. So they may be for hours on end eating what marsh grass they find This is their favorite fodder in summer ; in winter they are satisfied with straw it nothing better is available.


The female buffalo also has her value. She may give less milk than an ordinary cow, but the milk has a larger fat content and is suitable for making first-class butter.


A useful animal, indeed. It is cheap to buy and to keep; it pays its way while it lives ; and when its efficiency or milk yield declines it can be slaughtered for meat. A buffalo steak may be tougher and less appetizing than beef, but poor villagers eat it, for its price is low.


East Slovakia Genealogical Research Strategies