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Shocking news for Thai buffalos

Buffalos are a prized posession for many Thai farmers.
Buffalos are a prized posession for many Thai farmers.

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BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Fashionable neckwear is proving to be the death of Thailand's water buffalos, the government has said.

According to officials the growing popularity of brass neck bells is turning the nations beasts of burden into lightning conductors.

Fed up with forking out cash to replace dead buffalos zapped by a few thousands volts of nature's finest, the Thai Ministry of Agriculture is urging farmers to return to using more traditional wooden bells.

"The fashion leads to the deaths of their buffalos and wastes state money," deputy permanent secretary Dhammarong Prakobboon told the Bangkok Post.

It might not be hip, but buffalos with wooden bells would be safe, the paper quoted him as saying.

Water buffalos have long been a staple part of Thai rural life, acting as nature's answer to tractor power.

In the 1980s the country was thought to have over six million buffalos, but current estimates put the number closer to 1.2 million.

It is not known what role lightning bolts played in reducing the numbers.

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