The cape buffalo is one of the largest bovid animals in Africa, and is one of the most feared animals on the entire continent. Due to their size and massive horns, they fear no predators aside from lions and crocodiles.
1. Scientific & Common Names
4. Present Status
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Artiodactyla
Family - Bovidae
Subfamily - Bovinae
Genus - Syncerus
Species - S. caffer
Common Names – African Buffalo, Cape Buffalo, Southern Savannah Buffalo
The cape buffalo is a very large animal, measuring over 5 and a half feet tall at the shoulder and over 11 feet in length. Larger savannah animals can weigh up to 2,200 lbs. They are robust animals, with thick legs, short necks, and large and heavy curved horns on their heads. In males, the horns meet on the head to form a large thick mass called a "boss". Cape buffaloes are dark grey in coloration, though calves are often reddish brown.
Cape buffaloes give birth to a single calf, after about 350 days of gestation. Calves reach maturity around 3 and a half years of age, and breeding usually takes place between January and April.
Cape buffaloes travel in large herds of up to 500 animals. Older males may break off from herds and live on their own. They travel the African savannah feeding almost exclusively on grass. They are often accompanied by birds like the cattle egret who pick insects and other parasites off of the buffaloes' backs. To further avoid harassment by insects, cape buffalo practice "mud wallowing" to coat their vulnerable skin in protective mud to keep bugs from biting.
The cape buffalo has traditionally been divided into several subspecies, including the savannah, West African, mountain, and forest buffaloes. More modern research usually divides them into separate species.
These buffaloes are highly valued animals for both tourism and trophy hunting. They are known for their unpredictable nature, and are sometimes referred to as the most dangerous animal in Africa. They are responsible for 200 deaths per year and must be treated with extreme caution and respect.
Cape buffaloes are a species of "Least Concern". The current estimate of the species is around 550,000 individual animals.
Princeton Field Guides: Bovids of the World, Castello, 2016.