African Cape Buffalo
The African Cape buffalo is a member of the Big five animals found in Africa’s wildlife parks. Among the other five include the Lion, Leopard, African Elephant and Rhinoceros. The Buffalo has four subspecies and among them is the African Cape buffalo which is also the largest. The other species include the water buffalo found in Asia which are taller, domesticated animals, with mild personalities compared to their hot tempered cousin. The African Cape buffalo is Herbivorous and effectively feeds on plants although they are aggressive.
Lifestyle of the African Cape buffalo
When it’s time for grazing, these cow-like animals normally gather in groups of thousands. In drier months, they break up into small groups of 30 to 200 to find food. Within these small herd groups, they are smaller sub-herds that travel and stay together. The offspring and the adults will form family units of up to 30 individuals led by a few matriarchal females. The young bachelors stay together and mature bulls will stay in groups of up to 5 individuals also known as a gang.
The African Cape buffalo cannot go long without drinking so that they cannot be more than 10 miles away from a water source. They travel close to rivers and waterways, and will joyfully wallow in mud if available. Most of the times, they cover themselves with mood or sleep in muddy pools to stay cool when it’s hot. Although they are aggressive, the cape buffaloes are highly social wild animals and will engage in mutual grooming and affectionate nuzzling. Also they are protective of each other for example if they are in unfamiliar territory or under attack, herds will often surround calves or weak members all facing outward in a circle, ready to fight all comers.
In the mating season, the mature bulls will drive off young males and older bulls in attempt to keep cows close. The most successful bulls at attracting a herd of cows are the strong healthy bulls in the 8 to 14 year range. They eventually lose their ability to defend their herd and very old males will stop attempting to rejoin the herd, while staying on the outskirts in small groups or sometimes alone. As the African Cape buffalo ages the hair on their rumps tends to bald, and older males can be identified by their bare behinds. With patches of bare skin exposed, mud wallowing is a requirement to prevent sunburn, and these older bulls spend lots of time by the mud holes.
The cows (female buffalo) are pregnant for a period of 10 – 11 months and breeding is timed so that calving takes place at the beginning of the rainy season. The calf is born with no horns and it takes about 10 years for horns to reach full size, and for the boss to fully harden. Young calves are raised by their mother, but all members of the herd look out for them and may come to their aid. The herd will also form a circle around calves when danger is near.
Where to find them?
In Uganda, the African Cape Buffalo can be found in Murchison falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park in the far north. In Rwanda, you can find them at Akagera National Park, also known to have the other animals in the big five category.
Other Amazing facts about the African Cape Buffalo
- The buffalo’s hide from the neck area is 2 inches thick, which protects it most of the times during battles with other bulls.
- African Cape Buffalo is reported to have killed more hunters in Africa than any other animal. The buffalo can ambush the hunters that would have wounded or injured them.
- The Cape buffalo is capable of swimming deeper waters in search of better grazing.
- The Cape buffalo has four times more strength than an Ox.
- Cape buffalo are known to kill lions and can also seek out and kill lion cubs — preventative punishment.
- The Cape buffalo has exceptional memories.