African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
aka Cape Buffalo

One of Kenya's "Big Five" and are found throughout Kenya, in open woodland savanna with abundant grass & drinking water. No relation to the American or Asian Buffalo.

After 11 months gestation, a single calf is born, weighing 6 stone (40kg). Births normally occur during the wet season, when ample food is available. It will live for up to 20 years, growing to approximately 11' (3.35 metres) long and weigh 140 stone (900kgs).

The Buffalo's only regular predator is the Lion, but it takes several Lions to bring down a Buffalo. Many Buffalo are killed beside water-holes, where Lions know the Buffalo must visit. A herd of Buffalo can easily run off a whole pride of Lion, providing the matriarch leads the charge. New born calves are at risk from Cheetah, Leopard and Hyena, although herds are very protective of their new-born. Very occasionally, Nile Crocodile will take on a solitary Buffalo or wandering calf.

Buffalo are mostly found in herds, numbering between several score, to several thousand. Herds consist of cows, young of varying ages and adult bulls, maintaining a dominant hierarchy. Cows also establish a 'pecking order' amongst themselves. Each herd occupies a defined home range. Older bulls can be cast out of the herd and remain solitary, or join in small groups. All African Buffalo have horns which form a continuous shield across the top of their heads. Bulls have a heightened crown, or 'boss'.
An unpredictable and large beast, it is as well to keep a very good distance from these animals. Many humans are killed by African Buffalo every year. A sure sign that they are getting agitated, is when they stare at you and begin to urinate.
When at rest, African Buffalo will shuffle round and point in the direction they wish to move off in. This notable system is a form of 'voting' amongst the herd and true to form, the majority facing in a particular direction will ensure the whole herd moves off together in that direction.
Three quarters of Kenya's Buffalo live in the game parks. The rest, living in other areas, suffer from hunting and other human-animal conflict. Buffalo are prone to cattle-borne diseases (bovine tuberculosis, foot-and-mouth etc;) and a rinderpest plague in the 1890's killed over 90% of all Buffalo. It is thought they succumb so easily because of their tendency to lie so close together.
Buffalo are often seen with Red-billed or Yellow-billed Oxpeckers or Cattle Egrets on their skin. The birds and Buffalo have an amicable relationship, where the bird feeds on the ticks and insects and the Buffalo relies on the bird's warning call, in case of predators.

They are herbivores (eat nothing but grass), eating mostly at night and keeping cool during the day, by taking regular mud-baths. In dry seasons, they will also browse on leaves.
Buffalo have very poor eyesight and hearing, but an enhanced sense of smell and can 'taste' water in the distance, using their sense of smell. They do not get sufficient water from grazing and drink up to 70 pints (34lt) a day, usually early morning or late afternoon.

Photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara, Olare Orok Conservancy and Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch.

Categories & Keywords
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:african buffalo, animal, big 5, big five, buffalo, cape buffalo, herbivore, kenya, wildlife

African Buffalo ~ and Yellow-billed Oxpecker

African Buffalo head, flicking Yellow-billed Oxpecker into the air.

African Buffalo ~ Carcass

African Buffalo carcus, face-on

African Buffalo ~ Chewing The Cud

A large bull African Buffalo, chewing the cud.

African Buffalo ~ Eating Grass

African Buffalo head portrait, eating grass.

African Buffalo ~ Male Mud Wallowing

Male African Buffalo, wallowing in mud bath.

African Buffalo ~ Wallowing In Mud

Male African Buffalo, rolling backwards into mud, flies being dispersed everywhere.

African Buffalo ~ Disfigured

Large bull African Buffalo with disfigured nose.

African Buffalo ~ With Oxpecker Hitch Hiker

African Buffalo with Yellow-billed Oxpecker on its back.

African Buffalo ~ Framed

An African Buffalo, covered in mud, framed by two other African Buffalos

African Buffalo ~ Muddy

A mud-covered African Buffalo, eye shining through the mud.

African Buffalo ~ in Masai Mara

A herd of African Buffalo in Masai Mara landscape

African Buffalo ~ Baying

An African Buffalo portrait, baying, mouth full of grass.

African Buffalo ~ Head Portrait

Head of young male African Buffalo

African Buffalo ~ with Nairobi Skyline

African Buffalo with Nairobi Skyline

African Buffalo ~ Head & Shoulders

Close-up of African Buffalo Head & Shoulders

African Buffalo ~ Calf Portrait

Portrait of African Buffalo calf, head turned