African Buffalo

© Shem Compion


African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer)


The African buffalo can be found in South Africa. This large wild bovine reaches up to 1.5 meters in shoulder height and can weigh up to 750 kg. While both sexes have horns, bulls are equipped with a heavier boss and upward curving horns.

African Buffalo Diet

The African buffalo are bulk grazers and convert long grasslands to shorter grassy environments in the bushveld plains of South Africa. As a result, the African buffalo herds have an important impact on the ecological environment in South Africa.

African Buffalo Breeding

The African buffalo is a very sociable animal, and can live in herds of up to 100 individuals. These large herds break into smaller groups when drought occurs in South Africa. With a gestation period of 330 days, 1 calf is born at a time. Peak breeding season occurs between March and May, with calves being born between January and April.

African Buffalo Behavior

The African buffalo are frequently preyed upon by lions. African buffalo are known to rush to the defence of another herd member if it is under attack from a predator. In a large group, they are also able to ward off a pride of preying lions. The African buffalo is a member of the Big Five animals in South Africa, as a wounded buffalo is known to be extremely dangerous.

Where They are Found

Mainly found in woodland savannas across South Africa, the Kruger National Park has the highest concentration of African buffalo. Smaller populations can be found in Kwazulu Natal and Eastern Cape provinces.

Field Notes

The African buffalo have very stern appearances, and have a tendency to look upon you as if you owe them money!
Known to carry fatal viruses that can affect domestic livestock, disease-free buffaloes are now being bred in South Africa. These buffalo are mainly bred in the Eastern Cape province and carry a high price.

Buffalo Mating and Calving

Buffalo are only moderately sexually dimorphic (i.e. the differences between the sexes are subtle). The older bulls are black and often caked with dried mud from wallowing....more

Buffalo Movement

The movements of a herd of buffalo are determined by specific individuals known as ‘pathfinders’....more

Buffalo Senses

Buffalo have excellent senses. Although sight and hearing are less well developed, their sense of smell is acute and they use it to find food or to detect predators....more

Buffalo Social Structure

Buffalo are gregarious and live in mixed herds often numbering hundreds of individuals. These herds may increase or decrease in number seasonally....more

Fast Facts on Buffalo

The Cape (or African) buffalo is an enormous and formidable bovid with a reputation for a dangerously moody temperament....more

What Do African Buffalo Eat?

Buffalo are bulk grazers taking large quantities of long grass while they continuously move through an area....more