Buffalo Facts & information

The African or Cape buffalo (syncerus caffer) member of the Big Five group of animals, with pictures & facts

Description

• buffalo are massive – heavily built and powerful with a cattle like appearance

• weighs up to 800 kg with a shoulder height of 1.5 meters

• large and heavy horns curve down and outwards – then upwards and inward

• both sexes have horns with the male developing a more gnarled “boss” as they grow older which can not always be penetrated even by a rifle bullet

• sight and hearing are both rather poor – but scent is well developed in buffalo’s

• although quiet for the most part – the animals do communicate. In mating season they grunt and emit hoarse bellows. A calf in danger will bellow mournfully bringing herd members running at a gallop to defend it

Distribution

in southern Africa the largest populations can be found in Kruger National Park (South Africa); Hwange and the Zambezi floodplains (Zimbabwe); the Okavango delta and Chobe National Park (Botswana)

Behaviour

• they move in large herds often over 400 strong and most times behind the herd a lion pride can be found

• there are smaller bachelor herds of four to five. Occasionally solitary ones live alone and do not associate with the larger breeding herds

• being a bulk grazer they are responsible for converting long grasslands into short grassy environments conducive to other browsers with more selective feeding habits

• buffalo are one of the only animals that purposefully circle back onto their own trail to “hunt” the pursuer

• popular trophies for hunters – these large and often dangerous animals are unpredictable and can be deadly if cornered or wounded. ‘Dagga Boys’ are called widow makers

• “Dagga Boys” are old Cape buffalo who have been kicked out of the herd. Dagga means “mud” in Zulu & gets rid of parasites

• during the dry season they are the preferred prey of lion. If attacked the adults form a circle around the young and face outward

• thus predators do not have a major impact on buffalo herds; it is the old solitary-living males called ‘Dagga Boys’ that are most likely to be taken by lions

• by lowering their heads and presenting a solid barrier of sharp horns – it is difficult for predators to seize a calf. This effective group defense even allows blind and crippled members of the herd to survive