African Buffalo

Damienne Bingham

Joined September 2007

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African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer)
Samburu National Reserve,
Kenya. 2009.

Canon EOS 400D
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM
f/5.6, 1/1250s, ISO 200, 300mm
RAW. As is.


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The African buffalo, affalo, nyathi, Mbogo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large African bovine. It is not closely related to the slightly larger wild Asian water buffalo, but its ancestry remains unclear. Owing to its unpredictable nature which makes it highly dangerous to humans, it has not been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the domestic Asian water buffalo.

The African buffalo is a very robust species. It is up to 1.7 metres high, 3.4 metres long. Savannah type buffaloes weigh 500–900 kg, with males, normally larger than females, reaching the upper weight range. Forest type buffaloes are only half that size. Its head is carried low, its top located below the backline. The front hooves of the buffalo are wider than the rear, which is associated with the need to support the weight of the front part of the body, which is more powerful than the back

Savannah type buffalo have black or dark brown coats with age. Old bulls have whitish circles around their eyes. Female tend to have more reddish coats. Forest type buffalo are reddish brown in color with horns that curve out backwards and upwards. Calves of both types have red coats.

The horns of African buffalo are very peculiar. A characteristic feature of them is the fact that the adult bull’s horns have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield which can not always be penetrated even by a rifle bullet. From the base the horns diverge, then bend down, and then smoothly curved upwards and outwards. The distance between the ends of the horns of large bulls is more than a meter. The young buffalo horn “shield” forms fully only upon reaching the age of 5–6 years. In cows the horns are, on average, 10-20% less, and the “shield” is usually absent. Forest buffalo horns are much smaller and weaker than those of the savannah buffaloes and are almost never fused. They rarely reach a length of even 40 cm. (care of Wikipedia)



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