Is the buffalo an extinct species? The number of buffaloes that roamed North America between 1600 and 1870 is estimated to have been as high as 30 million, according to historical accounts. So, where did they all disappear to?
There is no such thing as an extinct American buffalo; rather, the species is classified as “near threatened.” However, today’s population numbers are a far cry from what they were hundreds of years ago.
The likelihood of uncovering that your home state has been covered by a carpet of rampaging buffalo herds is extremely low today. It is estimated that there are 530,000 buffaloes on confidential and public lands, with approximately 15,000 buffaloes roaming free in the wilderness.
As a major point to take away from the nearly-end of the American buffalo, one important finding is that overhunting can have severe ecological consequences. But after all, over 95% of the present-day buffalo population resides on private land, in which they are raised for their meat.
Prior to the nineteenth century, the buffalo played a critical role in the survival of Plains Indian tribes. Beyond serving as a religious symbol for many Native American tribes, American buffaloes were also a key element of food and raw materials for many of them. All kinds of things, from moccasins to paint, were produced from various buffalo parts in Native American culture.