African Buffalo Facts & information

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


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Southern Africa | Sub-Sahara Africa | Africa


Dagga Boy | Hwange Park

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Pictures of African Buffalo


  • 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

  • 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
  • though often accused of deliberate savagery, they are usually placid if left alone
  • Buffalo Hoofprints

    Buffalo hoofprints

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

  • 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)


  • during the dry season they are the preferred prey of lion. If attacked, the adults form a circle around the young and face outward
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Photo Montage
    Africa Botswana
    Namibia Zambia
    Zimbabwe Vic falls
    South Africa


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