African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer
aka Cape Buffalo Appearance
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. Longevity
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). Predators
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
, although herds are very protective of their new-born. Very occasionally, Nile Crocodile
will take on a solitary Buffalo or wandering calf. Behaviour
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. Diet
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. Photographs
Photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara, Olare Orok Conservancy and Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch.