African Buffalo Facts

African Big 5 Cape Buffalo

African Buffalo Facts

The African Cape Buffalo Is commonly found in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, they require large areas and are nomadic. The Cape Buffalo are also bulk grazers.

Buffalo are bovids, which means they have a keratin sheath covering the bone of the horn, making them hollow-horned. They are very quick tempered and Will not hesitate to ram you, should they perceive a threat.

The African Cape Buffalo is considered by many experienced bushmen to be one of the most dangerous if not the most dangerous of the Big5.

Two types of Buffalo are found in Africa, Savanna Buffalo and Dwarf forest Buffalo.

  • Weight: Male 850 kg Female 713 kg
  • Social: Non-territorial, large mixed herds,bachelor herds and hierarchy structure
  • Gestation: 343 days ( 11 months )
  • Life expectancy: approx 25 years
  • Diet: Grazer
  • Predators: Lions and Man ( Hunting )
  • The Buffalo is one of the Big 5

African Buffalo

cape buffalo big 5

South African Cape Buffalo Facts

The African buffalo made its way into the Big 5 ranking because of their size, moody behavior and their ability to charge with no warning.

The African buffalo has been said to be one of the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot.

It can be easy to see why as these enormous bovid weighs in at 800 kg for a male and 750 kg for a female.

Big 5 Buffalo

The living African buffalo

Has evolved from a much smaller ancestor that entered Africa roughly 5-6 million years ago, the status of the buffalo has seen much decline over the years as the battle for land and livestock (cattle) continue.

Buffalo are very easily recognizable on a game drive as they are a large ox like looking animal with very large bossed horns. Buffalo are dimorphic which means there is little difference between the male and the female.

Male buffalo are often covered in mud and their bosses met in the middle of their head to form a helmet like structure on the head.



Pictures of Cape Buffalo

Younger bulls

Often still have hairs on their horns. Female buffalo are more of a red brown in coloration and have more narrow horns. Female buffalo have a gestation period of 11 months and mating takes place during the late summer.

Buffalo will try to have their calves in the rainy season when there is plenty of green grass, rich in nutrients, to support lactating cows.

Cows normally give birth every two years. A calve can stand within in ten minutes of being born – a typical trait because buffalo are always on the move for food and water.

Buffalo have a lifespan of roughly 23 years

They are ranked in their herds by their fighting capabilities. Buffalo will often have head on clashed to determine rank in the herd. The hide on the buffalo’s neck can be as thick as inches to protect it during battles with other male bulls for dominance.

Dominant individuals will feed ahead of the rest of the herd or in the middle and gets the best nutrient rich grass and best access to females in oestrus. Buffalo are subsequently led by “pathfinders” (not necessarily dominant animals). Pathfinders act as a leader to the herd and determine where the herd will move.

As buffalo get older and their reproduction peaks pass males will often be chased from the larger herds and are often found in small groups or on their own. These animals then get the nickname Dagha boys. Dagha is the Zulu name for mud and refers to the buffalo spending a lot of their past time in mud wallows.

The Cape Buffalo is a member of the African Big 5



These are very dangerous animals,

Hunters have witnessed many deaths by cape buffalo.

However if left alone they are placid and will not cause any injury.Two types of Buffalo are found in Africa, Savanna Buffalo and Dwarf forest Buffalo.

The horns in males are used for dominance in the herd as well as weapons against predators. Buffalo live close to water. Buffalo may live in herds of up to thousands, the bulk of the herd will be made up of Females and offspring.

Males may also spend much of their time in bachelor herds. Sight and hearing in Buffalo's are not good however scent is very well developed in Buffalo. Should Buffalo offspring get into trouble they will make a noise as to indicate to the herd and Buffalo will help to defend their offspring.

Death in Buffalo is mostly contributed to malnutrition as grass is an important factor in their diet. Buffalo will make use more of night time feeding than day time feeding.

Females will calf once every two years, and from ages of 4 to 5. The birth of the young mostly occurs during the rainy season when feed is more accessible. Calves may suckle for up to 1 year.

Interestingly when Buffalo are hunted by predators ( Lion ) adults in the herd may form a circle around the injured, young and sick this demonstration of horns all facing outward not only helps to conceal the young but also helps in mortality rates from predators ( Lion ).

Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve has a large amount of Buffalo and this number is contributed to good annual rains. Sightings occur will occur mostly close to waterholes and rivers, the Black Umfolozi River has always been a very good area to witness these tremendous animals.

Should one come across a herd remain calm and make as little noise as possible, no fatalities have ever been recorded in the park from Buffalo.