African (Cape) Buffalo

Syncerus caffer

Buffalo 300x225 African (Cape) BuffaloSize

Head and body length:  1.7 – 3.4 m

Height:  1 – 1.7 m

Weight:  250 – 850 kg

Description

Looks like a large cross between an ox and a cow, with thick horns that come out sideways from the top of the skull.  Dark gray to black with lighter undersides, often covered with mud from wallowing.  Both males and females have horns, although the males develop a horn “shield” across the forehead, and males are significantly larger than females overall.

Breeding

Gestation is 11 ½ months, and mating and calving happen mostly during the rainy season.  Calves can stand by about 10 minutes after birth.  They can begin to follow the mother after several hours, but are unstable for several weeks.  Mothers’ loyalty is often split between offspring and the herd, and they will sometimes abandon young that can not keep up when fleeing.

Where to look for them

These animals can be found in a variety of habitats, from open savannah to rainforest to river’s edge.  They prefer a mixture of these areas, and particularly like wallowing in mud holes during the day.

Interesting Facts:

  • African buffalo create good habitat for many other species of antelope after they move through an area.  They are called “bulk grazers”, because they feed on large quantities of low-quality food.  This exposes the shorter, higher-quality grasses that are favored by animals like the Uganda kob.  In the 1960’s, there were about 30,000 buffalo in Murchison Falls, compared to 3,000 as of 1999.  As their numbers once again increase, they may pave the way for an increase in population of many other species.
  • They may look slow, but don’t count on outrunning one.  Buffalo can run 60 kph across open terrain and they are one of the most feared and dangerous animals in Africa.  Their behavior is often unpredictable, and
  • They may gather in herds of over 1,000 members in Murchison Falls.

Conservation Status

African buffalo are plentiful throughout Sub-Saharan Africa both in and out of game parks.  There is, however, a forest sub-species who’s numbers are declining in western and central Africa.  Livestock diseases carried by cattle are a risk.

Lifespan:

15 – 25 years

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