Tag Archives: Cape Buffalo

The African buffalo

The African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large African bovine. The adult buffalo’s horns are its characteristic feature; they have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield across the top of the head referred to as a “boss”. They are widely regarded as very dangerous animals.

Savannah-type buffaloes have black or dark brown coats with age. Old bulls have whitish circles around their eyes. Females tend to have more-reddish coats. Forest-type buffaloes are reddish brown in colour with horns that curve back and slightly up. Calves of both types have red coats.

The African buffalo is one of the most successful grazers in Africa. It lives in swamps and floodplains, as well as mopane grasslands and forests of the major mountains of Africa and also found on Sibuya Game Reserve. This buffalo prefers a habitat with dense cover, such as reeds and thickets, but can also be found in open woodland.  While not particularly demanding with regard to habitat, they require water daily, so depend on perennial sources of water.

African buffaloes make various vocalizations. Many calls are lower-pitched versions of those emitted by domestic cattle. They emit low-pitched, two- to four-second calls intermittently at three- to six-second intervals to signal the herd to move. To signal to the herd to change direction, leaders emit “gritty”, “creaking gate” sounds.

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African Buffalo Facts

Depending on the subspecies, African buffalo range in color from dark brown or black (in savannah-living races) to bright red (forest buffalo). The body is heavy-set, with stocky legs, a large head, and short neck. There are no distinct markings on the body, although forest buffalo tend to darken with age and may thus have dark patches mingled with the red base color. The ears are large and tend to droop; they are edged by a long fringe of hairs, including two white tufts in forest buffalo. Both male and female African buffalo have horns; in savannah buffalo, these are hook-shaped, curving first downwards and then hooking up and inwards, and growing up to 160 cm long. The horns of males are larger than females, and in males the bases of the horns expand into a known as a “boss”. Forest buffalo have much shorter horns (no more than 40 cm long) which are relatively straight and which sweep backwards in line with the forehead.

African buffalo will breed year-round if conditions allow, but where water is scarce most births occur during the wet season. At birth, the calf is lighter than the adults; baby savannah buffalo are usually dark reddish-brown, while baby forest buffalo are usually bright red.

African buffalo may be active throughout the day and night; on average, 18 hours per day are spent foraging and moving. Herds usually occupy a stable home range; in savannah buffalo, these areas may be 126 to 1,075 square kilometers in size. African buffalo are formidable animals on account of their large size, large herds, and large horns. Herds will stick together and may charge as a unit when threatened, a tactic which ensures that predators have difficulty preying on even young and feeble animals. Oxpeckers and cattle egrets are birds which frequently accompany buffalo, feeding on insects flushed from the grass as the buffalo walk and also eating biting insects from the buffalo’s skin. Regular use of mud wallows also helps protect buffalo from insects.

African buffalo are found in a variety of habitats, including open savannah, woodlands, and rainforest. Once ranging widely in sub-Saharan Africa, the distribution of this species has shrunk due to hunting and disease issues. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Range Map
(After IUCN Antelope Specialist Group, 2008)

The estimated total population is just under one million animals, although this species is in decline over most of its range.

Sibuya Game Reserve

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve

Visit Sibuya’s Forest Camp, River Camp or Bush Lodge for the ultimate African Safari adventure.

Sibuya offers team-building & conferencing programmes for companies or conference groups.

Apollo’s Rescue

Four BUFFALO calves have been born recently much to our delight. It’s been a real treat to see these tiny little creatures bounding along on still wobbly legs!

Mike called us urgently the other day to say that the newest little member was being “bullied” by the two juvenile RHINO bulls….they were apparently just being very nosey and pushing the little new-born creature around…even rather roughly lifting its hind-legs off the ground! The bullies got discouraged briefly by the large BUFFALO bull charging them but couldn’t resist coming back for more sport…Wisely the buffalo herd moved off as soon as the little ones were strong enough to manage the hike.


The Buffalo calf now fully recovered from its ordeal

While returning on a tractor from a day of bush-clearing for a wedding, at a spectacular view-point, Apollo came across a tiny ZEBRA foal (Equus burchelli) which seemed to be healthy but appeared to have been abandoned. The foal must have been extremely hungry and desperate because it came straight towards the idling tractor, seemingly appealing to him and unafraid of the loud noise. Apollo decided that regretfully he couldn’t really do anything constructive as evening was approaching and he still had a long drive home. He slowly moved off and much to his surprise and delight, the foal followed… A slow three km further, it was still behind him and making vocal attempts to create a “bond” with the tractor or slow it down! At that stage Apollo had to go through a barrier and onto a public road…with regret he took his leave of the now fairly exhausted baby but didn’t feel too bad as there was at least water near-by. He hoped the foal would drink after its long walk. About a km further along his journey he spotted a family group of zebra in the veld and his conscience nagged him enough that he turned the tractor around and returned to the foal. When the foal saw him approaching, it seemed delighted, again making attempts at vocal communication… and then, as before, the little foundling started to follow. Apollo took another longer route back through the veld towards the group of zebra who were now curiously watching his noisy approach. Suddenly, there was a huge commotion as the mother spotted and recognized the foal and many “joyful” zebra sounds followed as they were noisily reunited! How this baby got left behind, we’ll never know but at least the story had a happy ending! Apollo admitted that he went to sleep with a warm heart and a smile as he remembered his wonderful “rescue”… Thank you Apollo!


Zebra family happily reunited

Sibuya Game Reserve

Sibuya has recently started team-building & conferencing programmes for companies or conference groups.

If you are planning an African Safari, or want to stay at a Game Reserve in South Africa, or a Game Reserve near the Garden Route, or are looking for that perfect Game Reserve Wedding Venue, then why not visit Sibuya for that ultimate African Bush Experience! Sibuya is a Malaria Free Game Reserve