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ahe African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large Sub-Saharan African bovine.

Syncerus caffer caffer, the Cape buffalo, is the typical subspecies, and the largest one, found in
Southern and Eafefefefest Africa. S. c. nanus (African forest buffalo) is the smallest subspecies,
common in forest areas of Central and West Africa, while S. c. brachyceros is in West Africa and
S. c. aequinoctialis is in the savannas of East Afrfefefefefefica. The adult buffalo's horns are its
characteristigrgrgrgrgrc feature; they have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield across
the top of the head referred to as a "boss". They are widely regarded as very dangerous animals,
as according to some estimates they gore and kill over 200 people every year.efefefefe
The African buffalo is not an ancestor of domestic cattle and is only distantly related to other
larger bovines. Owing to its unpredictable nature, which makes it highly dangerous to humans,
the African buffalo has never been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo.
Other than humans, African Cape buffaloes have few predators aside from lions and large
crocodiles, and are capable of defending themselves. Being a member of the big five game, the
Cape buffalo is a sought-after trophy in hunting.

Range of the commonly accepted forms of the African buffalo


4Social behavior
5Relationship with humans
6See also
8Further reading
9External links

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Skull of an African buffalo

The African buffalo is a very robust species. Its shoulder height can range from 1.0 to 1.7 m (3.3
to 5.6 ft) and its head-and-body length can range from 1.7 to 3.4 m (5.6 to 11.2 ft). Compared
with other large bovids, it has a long but stocky body (the body length can exceed the wild water
buffalo, which is heavier and taller) and short but thickset legs, resulting in a relatively short
standing height. The tail can range from 70 to 110 cm (28 to 43 in) long. Savannah-type
buffaloes weigh 500 to 1,000 kg (1,100 to 2,200 lb), with males normally larger than females,
reaching the upper weight range.[3] In comparison, forest-type buffaloes, at 250 to 450 kg (600 to
1,000 lb), are only half that size.[4][5] Its head is carried low; its top is located below the backline.
The front hooves of the buffalo are wider than the rear, which is associated with the need to
support the weight of the front part of the body, which is heavier and more powerful than the
Savannah-type buffalo have black or dark brown coats with age. Old bulls often have whitish
circles around their eyes and on their face. Females tend to have more-reddish coats. Forest-
type buffaloes are 30-40% smaller, reddish brown in colour, with much more hair growth around
the ears and with horns that curve back and slightly up. Calves of both types have red coats.

A characteristic feature of the horns of adult male African buffalo (Southern and Eastern
populations) is that the bases come very close together, forming a shield referred to as a "boss".
From the base, the horns diverge downwards, then smoothly curve upwards and outwards and in
some cases inwards and or backwards. In large bulls, the distance between the ends of the
horns can reach upwards of one metre (the record being 64.5 inches 164 cm). The horns form
fully when the animal reaches the age of five or six years but the bosses do not become "hard"
till 8 to 9 years old. In cows, the horns are, on average, 10–20% smaller, and they do not have a
boss. Forest buffalo horns are smaller than those of the savanna buffalo from Southern and
Eastern Africa, usually measuring less than 40 centimetres (16 in), and are almost never fused.

● Syncerus caffer caffer (Cape buffalo) is the nominate subspecies and the largest one,
with large males weighing up to 910 kg (2,010 lb). The average weight of bulls from
South Africa was 753 kg (1,660 lb).[6] In Serengeti National Park, eight bulls
averaged similarly 751 kg (1,656 lb).[7] Mature cows from Kruger National
Parkaveraged 513 kg (1,131 lb).[8] In both Kenya and Botswana, the average adult
weight of this race was estimated as 631 kg (1,391 lb).[9][10] It is peculiar to Southern
and East Africa. Buffaloes of this subspecies living in the south of the continent,
notably tall in size and ferocity, are the so-called Cape buffalo. Color of this
subspecies is the darkest, almost black.
● S. c. nanus (African forest buffalo, dwarf buffalo or Congo buffalo) is the smallest of
the subspecies; the height at the withers is less than 120 cm and average weight is
about 270 kg (600 lb), or about the size of a zebra, and two to three times lighter in
mass than the nominate subspecies.[7][11] The color is red, with darker patches on
the head and shoulders, and in the ears, forming a brush. The dwarf buffalo is
common in forest areas of Central and West Africa. This subspecies is so different
from the nominate subspecies that some researchers still consider it to be a separate
species, S. nanus. Hybrids between the nominate and dwarf subspecies are not
● S. c. brachyceros (Sudanese buffalo) is, in morphological terms, intermediate
between the first two subspecies. It occurs in West Africa. Its dimensions are
relatively small, especially compared to other buffalo found in Cameroon, which
weigh half as much as the Cape subspecies (bulls weighing 600 kg (1,300 lb) are
considered to be very large). Adults average in weight up to 400 kg (880 lb).[12]
● S. c. aequinoctialis (Nile buffalo) is confined to the savannas of Central Africa. It is
similar to the Cape buffalo, but somewhat smaller, and its color is lighter. This
subspecies is sometimes considered to be the same as the Sudanese buffalo.[13]
● S. c. mathewsi (mountain buffalo or Virunga buffalo) is not universally recognized by
all authorities. It lives in mountainous areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Rwanda and Uganda.[14]

● Cape buffalo (S. c. caffer) in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa

● African forest buffalo (S. c. nanus) at the San Diego Zoo

● Sudanese buffaloes (S. c. brachyceros) at Pendjari National Park

● Cape buffaloes (S. c. caffer) in the Masai Mara, Kenya

The African buffalo is one of the most successful grazers in Africa. It lives in swamps and
floodplains, as well as mopane grasslands, and the forests of the major mountains of Africa.[15]
This buffalo prefers a habitat with dense cover, such as reeds and thickets, but can also be found
in open woodland.[16] While not particularly demanding in regards to their habitat, they require
water daily, and so they depend on perennial sources of water. Like the plains zebra, the buffalo
can live on tall, coarse grasses. Herds of buffalo mow down grasses and make way for more
selective grazers. When feeding, the buffalo makes use of its tongue and wide incisor row to eat
grass more quickly than most other African herbivores. Buffaloes do not stay on trampled or
depleted areas for long.
Other than humans, African Cape buffaloes have a few predators and are capable of defending
themselves against (and killing) lions.[17] Lions do kill and eat buffalo regularly, and in some
regions, the buffaloes are the lions' primary prey. It typically takes quite a few lions to bring down
a single adult buffalo. Usually, the entire pride joins the hunt; however, several incidents have
been reported in which lone adult male lions have been able to successfully bring down adult
animals. The average-sized crocodile typically attacks only old solitary animals and young
calves, though they can kill healthy adults, and exceptionally large, old male Nile crocodiles may
become semi-habitual predators of buffalo. Also, this crocodilian is the only animal that typically
takes down an adult buffalo alone, whereas a pride attack is the preferred method of lions when
taking down such large prey.[4][18][19] The cheetah, leopard, and spotted hyena are normally a
threat only to newborn calves, though very large clans of spotted hyenas have been recorded
killing cows (mainly pregnant ones) and, on very rare occasions, full-grown bulls.[20][21][22]

The Cape buffalo is susceptible to many diseases, including bovine tuberculosis, corridor
disease, and foot and mouth disease. As with many diseases, these problems remain dormant
within a population as long as the health of the animals is good. These diseases do, however,
restrict the legal movements of the animals and fencing infected areas from unaffected areas is
enforced. Some wardens and game managers have managed to protect and breed "disease-
free" herds which become very valuable because they can be transported. Most well-known are
Lindsay Hunt's efforts to source uninfected animals from the Kruger National Park in South
Africa. Some disease-free buffaloes in South Africa have been sold to breeders for close to
US$130,000.[citation needed]

Social behavior[edit]

Buffalo herd
Herd size is highly variable. The core of the herds is made up of related females, and their
offspring, in an almost linear dominance hierarchy. The basic herds are surrounded by subherds
of subordinate males, high-ranking males and females, and old or invalid animals. The young
males keep their distance from the dominant bull, which is recognizable by the thickness of his
horns. During the dry season, males split from the herd and form bachelor groups.[23] Two types
of bachelor herds occur: ones made of males aged four to seven years and those of males 12
years or older.[24] During the wet season, the younger bulls rejoin a herd to mate with the
females. They stay with them throughout the season to protect the calves.[25] Some older bulls
cease to rejoin the herd, as they can no longer compete with the younger, more aggressive
males. Males have a linear dominance hierarchy based on age and size. Since a buffalo is safer
when a herd is larger, dominant bulls may rely on subordinate bulls and sometimes tolerate their

Bulls in position to spar

Adult bulls spar in play, dominance interactions, or actual fights. A bull approaches another,
lowing, with his horns down, and waits for the other bull to do the same thing. When sparring, the
bulls twist their horns from side to side.[26] If the sparring is for play, the bull may rub his
opponent's face and body during the sparring session. Actual fights are violent but rare and brief.
Calves may also spar in play, but adult females rarely spar at all.
African buffaloes are notable for their apparent altruism. Females appear to exhibit some sort of
"voting behavior". During resting time, the females stand up, shuffle around, and sit back down
again. They sit in the direction they think they should move. After an hour of more shuffling, the
females travel in the direction they decide. This decision is communal and not based on
hierarchy or dominance.[27] When chased by predators, a herd sticks close together and makes
it hard for the predators to pick off one member. Calves are gathered in the middle. A buffalo
herd responds to the distress call of a captured member and tries to rescue it.[26] A calf's distress
call gets the attention of not only the mother, but also the herd. Buffaloes engage in mobbing
behavior when fighting off predators. They have been recorded killing a lion[28]and chasing lions
up trees and keeping them there for two hours, after the lions have killed a member of their
group. Lion cubs can get trampled and killed. In one videotaped instance, known as the Battle at
Kruger, a calf survived an attack by both lions and a crocodile after intervention of the herd.

African buffaloes make various vocalizations. Many calls are lower-pitched versions of those
emitted by domestic cattle. They emit low-pitched, two- to four-second calls intermittently at
three- to six-second intervals to signal the herd to move. To signal to the herd to change
direction, leaders emit "gritty", "creaking gate" sounds.[16] When moving to drinking places, some
individuals make long "maaa" calls up to 20 times a minute. When being aggressive, they make
explosive grunts that may last long or turn into a rumbling growl. Cows produce croaking calls
when looking for their calves. Calves make a similar call of a higher pitch when in distress.[16]
When threatened by predators, they make drawn-out "waaaa" calls. Dominant individuals make
calls to announce their presence and location. A version of the same call, but more intense, is
emitted as a warning to an encroaching inferior.[16] When grazing, they make various sounds,
such as brief bellows, grunts, honks, and croaks.