African Buffalo

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Mammals

iAfrican Buffalo
19th century drawing
19th century drawing
Conservation status

Conservation dependent (LR/cd)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
(unranked) Synapsida
(unranked) Mammaliaformes
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Syncerus
Hodgson, 1847
Species: S. caffer
Binomial name
Syncerus caffer
( Sparrman, 1779)

S. c. caffer
S. c. nanus
S. c. brachyceros
S. c. mathewsi

The African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a bovid from the family of the Bovidae. It is up to 1.7 meters high, 3 meters long, and can reach a weight of 1000 kilograms. On average, an adult male stands about 1.5 m high at the shoulder and weighs 680 kg, while a female is 10 - 15 cm shorter and weighs between 500 - 600 kg.

An African Buffalo Bull.
An African Buffalo Bull.

The Cape Buffalo is not closely related to the Asian Water Buffalo, but its ancestry remains unclear. It is a very powerful creature, demanding respect from even a pride of lions when paths cross. Other than humans, they have few natural predators and are capable of defending themselves against (and sometimes killing) lions. Lions do kill and eat buffalo occasionally, but it typically takes multiple lions to bring down a single adult buffalo; fewer when it is injured or very old. The leopard and spotted hyena are a threat only to newborn calves. Crossbreeding with domestic cattle has had only limited success, and the African Buffalo remains a wild animal.

Known as one of the " big five" in Africa, the Cape Buffalo can be a volatile and formidable beast, goring, trampling and killing several people a year. It is reputedly the most dangerous game animal, with the possible exception of the hippopotamus.

Cape Buffalo occur from open savannah to thickly wooded country, and wallow when the opportunity presents itself. They are found in Ethiopia, Somalia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania.

The main herd consists of both sexes and all ages, though bachelor groups are also found. A male is recognizable by the thickness of his horns, and is called the "Boss." Bulls mature at eight years of age. Cows first calve at five years of age, after a gestation period of 11.5 months. Older bulls forced out of herds are commonly found in bachelor groups.

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