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Cape Buffalo
Cape Buffalo

Cape buffalo

Order Artiodactyla, Family Bovidae, Genus Syncerus, Species caffer, Scientific Name: Syncerus caffer
Buffalo are water dependent and drink at least once a day. They are grazers and their peak activity time for feeding is early morning and late afternoon but also feed at night especially under a bright moon.
The major predator of buffalo is lion but they are occasionally killed by hyaena and young may be taken by crocodiles.
When a buffalo becomes alert to the presence of danger it will stop and listen, or turn and immediately face the disturbance. The head is held high and the ears cocked forward. It may toss his head and will stare “down his nose” at you. Threatening gestures include snorting, pawing the ground and taking a few steps in your direction. Often the serious charge begins with a guttural growl. Like hippopotamus, once a charge begins, there is very little chance of a mock charge. When encountering buffalo in the camp environment avoid detection. If the animal becomes aware of you back away towards cover or elevation. If a serious charge ensues there is no point trying to stand your ground- get your guests out of there.
Most mating takes place in February and after a gestation of 11 months a single calf is born weighing about 40kgs. Females have their first calf around 5 years and the calf is weaned after a year and a half. Bulls are sexually mature by 3-4 years but under normal circumstances will not be large or strong enough to compete for mating until they are at least 10. Calves are brownish in colour and although at 3-4 years they are nearly full size the horns continue to grow (especially in the males) and the coat becomes more sparse with age and using these comparative features, age can be estimated. A buffalo can live for 20-25 years.
Buffalo are herd animals and cows are associated with the herd their entire lives. Within the herd there is a hierarchy of males but many of the dominant males will mate with cows and it is not restricted to 1 alpha male. Males may leave the herd to form bachelor herds. This is not necessarily only old bulls but also middle-age bulls. Old bulls, or “dagga boys” tend to stay with old bulls and younger bulls stay in bachelor herds of younger bulls. Some of these bachelors will rejoin the herd during the rut to attempt to mate with females. Herds may join to become several thousand strong and then in the wet season break into smaller herds.