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Africa's Big 5 - Images, Facts and Information about the "Big Five"


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Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
Cape Buffalo, Resting at a Waterhole, Ngoronogoro Crater, Tanzania

Cape Buffalo, Resting at a Waterhole, Ngoronogoro Crater, Tanzania

© Anouk Zijlma
Cape Buffalo are commonly found in protected wildlife areas (that have plenty of water), throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Four sub-species of African Buffalo have been recognized and basically reflect the different type of regions and habitats they live in: Forest Buffalo (S. c. nanus); West African Savanna Buffalo (S. c. brachyceros); Central African Savanna Buffalo (S. c. aequinoctialis); and Southern Savanna Buffalo (S. c. caffer). The forest buffalo are smaller than those found in the savanna.

Cape buffalo are large, adults stand 4-6 feet tall and males weigh in at around 700 kg's (1500 lb's). Even lions don't dare take a chunk out of this beast unless they have friends helping them. Check out this video to see why. Cape Buffalo are said to have killed more big game hunters than any other animal in Africa and are one of Africa's most dangerous animals. Needless to say, the Cape buffalo has never been domesticated, but if left alone they are quite placid, just like their bovine brethren.

On the more open grasslands, Cape buffalo appear in large herds that can number up to a thousand individuals. Remarkably, there are few scuffles between herd members, perhaps the large males with their strong curved horns realize they could seriously injure one another in a brawl. Males will fight for dominance, but the battles are brief.

Cape Buffalo need to drink every day, so are often found close to water and never in the desert. They prefer to eat tall, coarse grass as well as bushes. Cape buffalo numbers are shrinking because they are hunted for their meat, and they have also been the victims of various domestic cattle diseases. There are thought to be around 1 million Cape buffalo left in Africa.

Where to see Cape Buffalo
If you want to see big herds of Cape buffalo, you should enjoy a safari in:

Fun Facts About the Cape Buffalo
  • Buffalo will protect their calves by pushing them into the middle of the herd when danger lurks
  • Buffalo will mob a predator, especially if there's a calf calling for help
  • Buffalo mate and give birth during the rainy season only
  • Cape Buffalo have never been domesticated
  • M'bogo is the (Ki)Swahili word for Cape Buffalo.
  • The ox-pecker bird keeps the Cape Buffalo clean by eating all the parasites that live in its thick hide
  • The Cape Buffalo can run at speeds of 35 mph

Cape buffalo - Wikipedia
Cape Buffalo - AWF
IUCN Redlist - Cape Buffalo

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