African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Bovidae
Size:    Height 3.2 to 5.6 feet (0.97 to 1.7 m) at shoulder  Length: 7 to 11 feet (2.1 to 3.4 m)
Weight: 935 to 2,000 pounds (425 to 900 kg)
Diet: Grass, plants
Distribution: Africa
Young:  1 calf every other year
Animal Predators:  Lion
IUCN Status: Lower Risk, Conservation Dependent
Terms: Male: Bull   Female: Cow   Young: Calf
Lifespan: 15 to 25 years



            African buffalo are extremely powerful and can run at speeds of up to 57 kph (35 mph).

            African buffalo are also known as Cape buffalo.



African buffalo have distinctive black horns that curl either out and back, upwards or downwards. Males have a thick boss (shield) that covers their head. Their fur ranges from reddish to dark brown to black, and they have big droopy ears. 



African buffalo were once found throughout Africa, south of the Sahara desert. They now range through the middle of Africa to just north of South Africa. 


Feeding Habits

African buffalo stay in areas consisting of open grasslands with forest covering and a water source, because they need to drink daily when they are eatnig hay. They can go several days without drinking water, otherwise. They graze on various grasses and plants. 



During mating season, a bull will choose a cow and stay nearby her, protecting her from other bulls. The feelings may not be reciprocated and the cow may wait to see if other bulls approach her. Males show signs of aggression towards each other during mating season. After several days of courting a female, the bull will lay his chin on her rump. If she does not move away, he knows the interest is mutual. Cows will sometimes initiate mating as well, by putting her chin on his rump or by pushing her head under his belly. Eleven months after mating, a single calf is born, weighing almost 90 pounds (40 kg). Male calves stay with their motherís herd for up to four years before joining a bachelor herd, which usually hangs on the fringe of a larger herd. Females stay with their mothers for much longer, sometimes even for life. 



African buffalo can be extremely aggressive and put up a fierce fight when confronted by a predator, even frightening lions away by chasing them. The herd rallies around any of their members threatened by predators. When not threatened, they are peaceful and quiet animals. African buffalo are extremely social and live in herds of 19 to 450 animals. During mating season the herds consist of one or more males, several females and their offspring. Otherwise, they are usually composed of mostly females and their offspring. Herds sometimes join together to create larger herds of up to 2,000 buffalo. African buffalo spend eight to 10 hours per day grazing, but usually rest from noon to late afternoon, when the sun is the hottest, coming out to graze again in the late afternoon and evening. African buffalo often cover themselves with mud to get rid of parasites and flies. 



Their numbers have been reduced by hunting, disease and habitat loss. 



Cape Buffalo Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US