Much like the American bison, the African buffalo (also known as the Cape buffalo) is an impressive and imposing animal. Standing at over six feet tall and weighing up to 2,000 pounds, this species of buffalo makes for an intimidating presence in the wild.
These animals are mostly found throughout sub-Saharan Africa within humid savannahs, grasslands, and dense forests. Due to their huge size and tendency towards aggression when provoked or threatened, the African Cape buffalo has few natural predators. However, they have been confirmed as the leading cause of human mortality in regard to large mammals in this part of the world.
With that being said, here are some interesting facts about these magnificent creatures.
1. African Buffalo Appearance.
Weighing in at nearly a ton and measuring around 3 meters long, the African buffalo’s intimidating physical presence is well-known. Its massive head – crowned with a pair of impressively large horns – and shaggy coat are distinctive features. The buffalo’s coat is colored black or dark brown with a reddish tinge. The coat has two layers: The long, coarse outer layer is called the “guard hair”, and the dense, wooly undercoat is used to keep the buffalo warm. The buffalo’s hump is formed by a large muscle called the “dorsal caruncle”, which is used to power the animal’s head movements. The buffalo’s hump is one of the largest in the animal kingdom.
2. African Buffalo Behavior.
The African buffalo, like many other members of the Bovidae family, is a social animal. Buffalo herds consist of mature females, calves, and adolescent males (the “bachelors”). Adult males are either solitary or found in a loose “boarding house” arrangement with other males. Buffalo are diurnal animals and are therefore most active during the day. They lead a fairly sedentary existence during the wet season but move to areas with more nutritious grasses during the dry season when the nutritional value of their original feeding grounds deteriorates. Buffalo are gregarious, but they are not normally found in large aggregations. Buffalo will often congregate near water holes during the dry season, as they have to travel farther to find food in drier areas.
3. African Buffalo Diet.
Like all members of the Bovidae family, the African buffalo is an herbivore. It is an extremely adaptable feeder, however, and will eat a wide variety of vegetation, including grasses, forbs, shrubs, herbs, and bark. Buffalo are particularly fond of aquatic plants, which make up an important part of their diet. Buffalo feed in a variety of ways: grazing on land, browsing in trees, and grazing in or near water. Buffalo spend much of their day eating, as their digestive systems are not particularly efficient. This is because they have a “fore-gut fermentation” digestive system, in which bacteria plays an important role in the breakdown of food – a process that is much slower than in “fore-gut fermentation” animals like cows.
4. African Buffalo Conservation.
The African buffalo is considered Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, but there is a lot of confusion about how many of the species exist in the wild. The IUCN Red List reports that there are an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 buffalo in the wild, while the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) estimates a much lower figure of 25,000 animals. The discrepancy in numbers may be due to the widespread problem of the “commercialization” of buffalo herds. In many areas, farmers have crossed African buffalo with Asian water buffalo to increase milk production. These animals are now considered a separate species and are referred to as “zebu cattle”.
GET IN TOUCH
To contact an expert travel planner to start planning your adventure in Kenya, click the button below: