Monday, July 7, 2014

Cape Buffalo

The African buffalo is also known as the cape buffalo and there are four or five subspecies. The typical subspecies, and the largest, is known as the cape buffalo (the others are the forest buffalo, Sudanese buffalo, Nile buffalo and mountain buffalo). It is found in east and south Africa from southern Sudan and Ethiopia through central and eastern Africa to Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe and north and east South Africa. 
Cape buffalo in the Ngorongoro Crater.
Near the water hole at Serena Mountain Lodge in Mount Kenya NR.
Near Lake Nakuru in Nakuru NP.
Photo by Esmee Tooke.
In Ngorongor Crater. Photo by John Mirau.
It is not closely related to the Asian water buffalo and it is not an ancestor of domestic cattle. It is very unpredictable and dangerous and has never been domesticated. 
This big old bull has white around the eyes. He does not look like an animal you want to tangle with.
The cape buffalo, the subspecies we saw, has a brownish/black coat. Females tend to have more reddish coats, as do calves, and older males may get white rings around the eyes. Males have horns with fused bases that form a continuous bone shield that broadens into a heavy boss (protuberance). Female horns are shorter, thinner and have an incomplete boss. It has large, drooping, fringed ears. Its tail ends in a tuft. They form herds of up to several thousand animals, themselves made up of clans of a dozen or more females and calves and several mature bulls. The herd protects the herd members, particularly calves, and will respond to distress calls and will often charge predators en masse. Young males keep their distance from the dominant male, recognizable by the thickness of his horns. 
I love the picture of this big old bull. A notch in his ear, cratered boss, and he stands defiant. 
A sideways view which shows how wide the boss can get. From this angle, the horns look like a funny hat. At Nakuru NP.
This female is less grizzled and has thinner and more curved horns. At Nakuru NP. Photo by Mark Edwards.
A female followed by a calf at Mountain Lodge in Mount Kenya NR.
Big male, top left, with females at Mt. Kenya NR.
Photo by Michael Lewin.
The cape buffalo is one of the "big five," a term given to the five most dangerous animals to hunt. Along with the hippo and crocodile, it is considered one of the more dangerous animals in Africa. Over 200 people a year are killed by cape buffalo. 


  1. I always thought those horns look like some old guy with his hair parted down the middle-kind of a little goofy. Interesting that they aren't related to Asian water buffalo or domesticated cows.

  2. So no cape buffalo cheese in our future, huh? Too bad.

  3. I want information about sudanes baffulo