The Cape buffalo

Basic introduction to the buffalo

At first glance, buffaloes look like domesticated cattle, but with blackish body color and well known for their remarkable horns that resemble horizontal question marks with the sharp point, facing upwards and slightly inwards. Both male and female buffaloes have horns. The male buffaloes’ horns are much thicker and bulkier than the females. The horns grow out of a shield-like structure on top of the head that is more prominent and pronounced in males than in females. This structure is called the “boss” and it is actually made up of two “boss halves”.

Vital Statistics

  • Shoulder Height: Male – 1.6 m (5.3 feet) Female – 1.5 m (5 feet)

  • Body length: Male – 2.5 m (8 feet) Female: – 2.3 m (4.8 feet)

  • Weight: Male –  870 kg (1900 lbs.) Female – 600 kg (1320 lbs.)

  • Gestation period/pregnancy: 11 months

  • Food preference: Bulk Grazer

  • Social grouping: Large herds or bachelor herds

  • Average Lifespan:  20 to 25 years

  • Maximum speed: 56 kilometers an hour (35 mph)

Diet and feeding of the Buffalo

Buffaloes eat a wide selection of grass species and are bulk grazers. Buffalo seems to prefer long dry grass above short grass with new growth shoots. They will graze over a wide area in search of food resources and seldom wander far from water (if the availability of food is enough). Buffaloes are water-dependent and will drink daily if they can. They will drink between 60-80 liters (16-21 gallons) of water per day.

During the heat of the day, buffaloes will lay down under a shady tree and ruminate. During this time, male buffaloes also enjoy a bit of mud wallowing in the shallow water in a muddy spot to help regulate the body temperature. The mud will dry on the body and will help protect the animal from the sun as well as parasites.

Social grouping of the Cape buffalo

Buffaloes are very social animals and will mostly be found in herds, ranging from a few individuals to a couple of hundred. A herd consists of males and females of all ages as well as their offspring.

Smaller herds can be found near rivers, most commonly amongst the reeds or on top of or near rocky outcrops that they use as a height-advantage for possible danger. These are usually males and are called a bachelor herd.

Within any buffalo herd, whether it be a mixed herd or a bachelor herd, there resonates a strict hierarchy based on the ability to fight and the overall body size of a male buffalo.

Female buffaloes on the other hand will be ranked by their reproduction status, with mothers with young earning the highest rank.

Rank is very important, especially in a big herd, as it will determine the position where the animals will walk in the herd. Higher ranked buffaloes are in the front of the herd, they get to eat the best food first. Lower-ranked individuals will walk in the middle and in the back. These buffaloes have to be happy with the vegetation that has been left over by the higher ranked buffaloes.

These animals are vulnerable, as they are exposed to attack more often than the higher-ranked individuals in the front.

A buffalo herd is structured according to the season. During the wet/rainy season, large herds fragment into smaller herds as water and grazing becomes more plentiful. The movement of the herd is determined by the front, higher-ranked buffaloes.

Fighting and Hierarchy of Buffaloes

The rank of a male buffalo is determined by intimidation tactic and strength. A young male will only be granted a higher title after several years of altercations amongst the other juveniles.  Threat displays from males are usually enough to be taken seriously, instead of a physical fight.

The threat posture is usually in the form of the two opposing parties holding their head high while pointing the nose to the ground and hunching the shoulders. If no response is given by one individual, the more aggressive buffalo may toss its head around, dig the ground with its horns or even initiate a small chase in an attempt to hook its horns into its opponent’s horns. The response will then be met by the other buffalo holding its head low with its horns back, or if close enough, to put its nose beneath the neck or stomach of the dominant male.

In the event of a serious fight, two bulls will charge each other, with noses pointing towards each other. Just before impact, both animals will lower their heads to brace for impact, with the two opposing bosses clashing multiple times. The loser will turn and run in order to avoid a further damaging attack.

Old, dominant bulls will lose their status at about 11 years of age. During this time, they will either leave the herd and walk alone or join a bachelor herd.

Reproduction of the African Buffalo

The most common time to mate is January through to March. It is also believed that the main calving period coincides with optimal grass growth or after the first great rain has fallen.

The gestation for a buffalo is 11 months. Female buffaloes go into estrous after 3 years old and will give birth for the first time at age 4. Male buffaloes will frequently check the sexual status of a female with Flehmen Grimace, and sniffing of her urine and genitals. The female finally comes into estrous for only 2 – 3 days. The mating will commence with the male courting her and resting his head on her rump. She may prove deliberately evasive by attracting the attention of other males. This leads to fights between two bulls. The highest-ranked and the most experienced bull will get to mount her in the end.

Buffalo Anti-predator behavior

Large herds of buffalo are frequently followed by lions, as lions know the old and the weak, lower-ranked individuals walk in the back of the herd. When buffaloes get attacked, they will act in charging or surrounding the predator in a circle of defense, trying to drive the danger away.

YES! We offer affordable Kruger National Park safaris

Our rates include the following:

  • Transfers from a pre-arranged pick-up location to Kruger National Park and back (this can be at your accommodation where you are staying, depending on the location). This includes Nelspruit | Kruger National Park | KMI Airport | Skukuza Airport | White River | Hazyview | Malelane | Komatipoort and Marloth Park

  • Full Day safari with a luxury open safari vehicle

  • An accredited & professional Field Guide doubling as the driver of the vehicle on the day of safari

  • A snack box per person consisting of various treats to munch on during the day of the safari

  • +- 8 Hours of sheer “entertainment” in the world-famous Kruger National Park (excludes travel time outside the park)

  • Assistance with Kruger National Park entrance/conservation fee payments, paperwork and permits

  • The use of high-quality, waterproof ponchos on-board the vehicle when needed

Please note:

Our area of operation covers Nelspruit and surrounding areas, White River | Malelane | Hazyview | Komatipoort | Marloth Park | Kruger National Park | KMI Airport | Skukuza Airport.

Please contact us if your accommodation falls outside of our area of operation.

We also conduct safari tours in the North of Kruger upon request and need. You also have the option to hire the safari vehicle privately, email us to find out more. Additionally, you have the option to add your Kruger entrance/conservation fees when you make your booking so you don’t have to go to the office on the morning of the safari to make payment for entrance fees.

REVIEWS


Fantastic experience

We really enjoyed our safari with Liz and the web photographer. They pointed out many sightings which we would never have seen on our own. We saw 3 leopards, many elephants, rhinos, cape buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, hippos and different types of antelopes and birds.
They provided binoculars which helped a lot, especially when observing the leopards in the reed!
The service is top: on time, friendly, very informative and you get a feeling how much they enjoy “going the extra mile” for the customer. They tried to keep ahead of the crowd and do not enter thru Numbi gate which is usually very crowded. Its great the park fee is included in the price because then you do not need to queue at the entrance like in the case of some of the other operators. We will definitely recommend you!

dorischristina2015, TripAdvisor
Emocional experience

When we thought about that trip, my wife, my stepson, our friend and I ,had never imagined how amazing could be , and how deep can touch us. From the first moment when we founded Lizelle, our guide at the Malelane door, the magic begins to happen.She was so unreal in some way, that my wife said ( in Portuguese,) she seems to be a caracter from a movie!, We had very good luck , and in just 2 full days, 20 hours total, we could see the real big five, including black rhino and leopard, and many many other species, of course. Lizelle was so nice, so professional and so dedicated that we are recommended to our friends around the World to do the same program.. .. we will repeat it for sure. There is not words, not video or pictures, that can transmit this experience, .. believe me, after you live it you will understand it .

FellowTraveler507918, TripAdvisor
Great services! Amazing commments

The guide was very friendly and helpful!
She really knew the way around the park and we were able to see a big variety of animals

344hama, TripAdvisor
Super accommodating and informative.
Liz was super patient in making sure we get the morning bush walk and night drive within limited dates. They know lots about every animal we saw. I love that they provide parkas for their guests because it gets super chilly as the truck moves. Their truck is clean and not loud like other trucks which tend to scare the animals away.
Zzame Em, Google Review
Leading Safari Company

Lion Roar Safaris offers safaris in Kruger Park. In an excellent car and with professional equipment we discovered in a small groupe the big 5. The guide was an expert and is very customer oriented.

DutchAdventurer, TripAdvisor
Spectacular day in the Mighty Kruger!

Even if the weather was cold during the day, the spectacular sightings we had made up for it all. Luckily this company is not one of those that rush from one big sighting to another but rather take it at a slower pace and therefore not miss even the small things like some bird species and trees and plants, lizards and much more.
Oh and I am so glad their Photographer was also on board with her very sharp eye sight. She spotted plenty of animals where the rest of us missed them…especially that Cheetah! And she took the most beautiful pictures (and some short videos clips) of all our sightings that day. We were surely one lucky group of people seeing all those magnificent wildlife, especially the Elephant Calves, Wild Dogs as well as Hyena Pups!
Oh and let’s not forget the snack bags that was packed for us!!
The Guide was very informative and interactive with our group. Evidently her kindness and helpfulness is not only restricted to the time a guest is on her vehicle still busy on the Tour but even helping when one of our group members was staying over at a place in the Kruger Park, she assisted him from booking in at the camp to taking him to where he would be staying, to briefly showing him around on what is where and available to him in the camp. And this all took merely a few minutes.
I would definitely be recommending Lion Roar Safaris.

Grifinne, TripAdvisor

Best experience ever!

Lizelle was very informative and made sure we had the best views of all the animals!

Johan , Google Review
Amazing experience

Staff is professional and on time.
We saw a lot of animals like lions cheetah hyenas rhinos elephants hyppos and many others.
Really an amazing day!! Thank you!

valeva2019

Some of the services Lion Roar Safaris Offer…

Upmarket Luxury Safaris  I  Tailored Safaris  I  Professional Personal Holiday Photographer   I  Hire a Professional Field Guide  I  Hire a Private Safari Vehicle   I   Accommodation in and around Kruger   I  Photographic Safaris   I   Safari catering – picnic lunches, dinners and BBQ’s and more…

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