The Cape buffalo is a large Africa bovine found in south and east Africa. They can weigh up to 2,000 lbs. and reach a height of 5.5 ft at the shoulder. Both males and females have horns with the males’ being larger. The bases of males’ horns can expand towards each other; this is known as a ‘boss’.
Cape buffalo are formidable animals because of their large size, large herds, and large horns. Herds will stick together and may charge as a unit when threatened, a tactic which ensures that predators have difficulty preying on even young and feeble animals. The species is notoriously ill tempered and a wounded buffalo is considered by many to be one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Herds consist of 50-500 animals. Old males may become solitary.
The Cape buffalo’s primary diet is grass. They give birth to a single calf after a 340-day gestation (~11 months). They can live up to 20 years in the wild; 29 in human care.
Although the Cape buffalo is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN and is not listed by CITES at this time, hunting by humans for meat and trophies, introduced diseases such as rinderpest, and habitat loss are all threats to the species. The estimated population of Cape buffalo in the wild is thought to be just under one million animals, but as with other large African mammals they are in decline over most of their range. Buffalo herds can have significant ecological impact on the savanna by their heavy grazing habits, which help convert long grasslands into short grassy environments that support browsing species.
Cape buffalo are an iconic African animal and their use as a flagship species for conservation can draw attention to the needs of other species that share the savanna landscape; many of which may not be as well known as their impressive neighbor.