African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)


Family:                  Bovidae.

Status:                  Threatened.

Size:                     Height 4 to 5.75 ft. at shoulder, length 8 to 11 ft., weight 700 to 1,750 lbs.

Diet:                     Herbivore.

Characteristics:     Sociable.

Area:                    Africa.

Offspring:              One calf every other year.



·            African buffalo are extremely powerful and can run at speeds of up to 57 kph (35 mph).

·            African buffalo are also known as Cape buffalo or Savannah buffalo.

·            They’re extremely courageous animals and will turn on predators, even lions or men.

·            They don’t spend much time in the shade, but love to wade in water to cool down.

·            The scientific name Syncerus caffer means horns that are joined together.



African buffalo have distinctive black horns that curl upwards. The male has a thick boss (shield) that covers his head. They can be extremely aggressive and put up a fierce fight when confronted by a predator, and have even been known to frighten lions away by chasing them. The herd rallies around any of their members who are threatened by a predator. When not threatened, they’re peaceful and quiet animals. African buffalos live in herds of 8 to 20 animals, consisting of one or more males, several females and their offspring. Herds sometimes join together to create larger herds of up to 2,000 buffalo, but these are temporary. Herds have several leaders, both male and female, who dictate the direction and movements of the herd. African buffalo are active during the day and spend 8 to 10 hours per day grazing, but usually rest from noon to late afternoon, when the sun is the hottest, coming out to graze again from late afternoon until the sun sets. They stay in areas consisting of open grasslands with forest covering and a water source, because they need to drink daily. African buffalo often cover themselves with mud to get rid of parasites and flies. When the mud dries, the buffalo will rub up against a tree to remove it from his fur.



African buffalo were once found throughout Africa south of the Sahara desert. They now range in the middle of Africa and along the west coast to just north of South Africa. Their numbers have been reduced by excessive hunting and habitat loss.



During mating season, a bull will choose a cow and stay nearby her, protecting her from other bulls. The feelings may not be reciprocated and the cow may wait to see if other bulls approach her. Males show signs of aggression towards each other during mating season but do not engage in fights. After several days of courting a female, the bull will lay his chin on her rump. If she doesn’t move away, he knows the interest is mutual. Cows will sometimes initiate mating as well, by putting her chin on his rump or by pushing her head under his belly. Eleven months later, a single calf is born, weighing almost 90 pounds (40 kg). Male calves stay with their mother’s herd for up to three years before joining a bachelor herd, which usually hangs on the fringe of a larger herd. Females stay with their mothers for much longer, sometimes even for life. The oldest known African buffalos in the wild have been estimated at 18 years of age, while the oldest captive lived to 29 years and 6 months.