Scientific Name: Syncerus caffer
Habitat: Dense forest to open plains
Average lifespan: 20 years
Size: Head and body, 8 to 9 feet (2.4 to 2.7 m); Tail 2 to 3.3 feet (60 to 100 cm)
Weight: 1,500 to 2,650 lbs (700 to 1,200 kg)
Group name: Herd
Did you know? The domesticated water buffalo is often referred to as the “living tractor of the East,” as it is relied upon for plowing and transportation in many parts of Asia.
Protection status: Endangered
The Buffalo is only distantly related to either of the two "true buffaloes", the Asian Water Buffalo and the African Buffalo. However, "bison" is a Greek word meaning ox-like animal, while "buffalo" originated with the French fur trappers who called these massive beasts boeufs, meaning ox or bullock – so both names, "bison" and "buffalo," have a similar meaning.
What does a buffalo look like?
Savanna buffaloes are large, heavy cow like animals. They vary greatly not only in size, but in the shapes of their horns and color. Adults are usually dark gray or black and the young are often reddish-brown. The smaller forest buffalo maintains the red color even as an adult. Adults lose hair as they age. Buffaloes have heavy, ridged horns that grow straight out from the head or curve downward and then up. The horns are formidable weapons against predators and for jostling for space within the herd; males use the horns in fights for dominance.
Where do buffalo's live?
Both savanna buffaloes and forest buffaloes live close to water. In general buffaloes are found throughout the northern and southern savanna as well as the lowland rain forest. Female buffalo live in maternal herds which includes other females and their offspring. Male offspring leave their maternal herd at around three years old and will either live alone or join other males in bachelor herds. Male and female herds do not mingle until the breeding season.
What does a buffalo eat?
Grass forms the greatest part of the diet of the African buffalo, which mostly feeds at night, seeming to have a relatively poor ability to regulate body temperature. Food sources play more of an important role than predation in regulating buffalo numbers. Without fresh green feed, buffaloes lose condition faster than other savanna ungulates.
How many buffaloes are in a herd?
Africa's only cow like mammal makes its home in a variety of habitats at altitudes up to 13,200 feet. Herds can be as large as 2,000 individuals. Members mutually groom each other and make noises to communicate. Buffaloes can live in herds of a few hundred, but have been known to herd in thousands in the Serengeti during the rainy season. Most of the herd contains females and their offspring. Males may spend much of their time in bachelor groups. The older bulls often prefer to be on their own.
What are the strong senses of the Buffalo?
Sight and hearing are both rather poor, but scent is well developed in buffaloes. Although quiet for the most part, the animals do communicate. In mating seasons they grunt and emit hoarse bellows. A calf in danger will bellow mournfully, bringing herd members running at a gallop to defend it.
Did You Know?
The African buffalo differs from the domesticated water buffalo found in other parts of the world, although they both superficially resemble one another.
The buffalo is one of the most abundant of Africa's large herbivores. It depends on water and does not live in regions with less than 10 inches of rain a year.
Stronger Than an Ox! An African buffalo has four times the strength of an ox, according to recent research. A determined buffalo can even tip over a motorcar.
The African buffalo can be surprisingly affectionate. With enough time and patience, one born in the wild can learn to trust people, even accepting pets, rubs and hugs.
Top surprising Cape Buffalo facts.
Cape buffalo are known to kill lions, and can seek out and kill lion cubs as preventative punishment.
The adage an elephant never forgets would be matched by a buffalo never forgives. They have been known to attack people that have harmed them even years after the event.
Buffalo have smooth tongues.
The hide on a bull buffalo's neck is as thick as 2 inches in places, which protects it during battles with other bulls for dominance.
Buffalo are capable swimmers and often cross deep water in search of better grazing.
Download free Buffalo wallpapers, click on the image to open the large version.
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Buffalo Coloring pages
Print free Buffalo coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.