Once popular trophies for hunters, these large and often dangerous animals have continued to capture the imagination. Buffalos have earned a bad reputation from hunters and other people who come in close contact with them. They are unpredictable and can be dangerous if cornered or wounded.
Buffalo are extremely large, ox-like animals. Standing approximately 65 inches at the shoulder, adult males have a mass of up to 1760 pounds and females weigh up to 1650 pounds. To support the large body, the legs are very heavy. Front hooves are larger than the hind because of the extra mass they carry in the huge head and thick neck. Both sexes carry horns, which in the males can grow to 1.5m. Buffalo varies considerably in size, with some of the forest populations half the size of those from the plains and Savannah. African Buffalo stand approximately 65 inches at the shoulder.
Dense forest to open plains. Plentiful supplies of grass, shade and water are essential habitat requirements for the savannah buffalo. They avoid wide open areas and flood plains which are far from shade. Buffalo drink regularly, often twice a day, and they frequently remain in the vicinity of water when feeding.
In South Africa, the mighty buffalo can be found in a number of popular reserves, where visitors can appreciate their sheer strength and size. These reserves include the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve in the Little Karoo (just three hours from Cape Town), Pilanesberg National Park in the North West, the world’s top safari spot of the Kruger National Park, and the magnificent Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal.
Buffalo are herbivorous grazers. They graze almost exclusively, but do include a small amount of browse in their diet.
Buffalo are gregarious, occurring in herds of up to several thousand. In the wild they are known to have lived up to 18 years. Buffalo use their horns as weapons against predators and horns are used for shoving for space within the herd; male buffalo use their horns to fight for dominance within the herd.
Cows become sexually mature at +/- 3 years of age. The majority have their first calf at five years old and one thereafter every other year. Males that are 7 years or older usually mate with the females. The gestation period is from 330 to 346 days and a single calf is born. Calf mortality is high with only about 20% reaching maturity. Buffalo mortality for adults are 18 to 20 years in the wild, up to 29 years in captivity.