The African Buffalo is possibly the most dangerous animal on the African Continent. They are known to trample, gore and kill more than 200 people every year. Buffalo have a very unpredictable temperament and are not related to cattle, so they cannot be domesticated. With the exception of lion and crocodiles, the African Buffalo has no predators. African Buffalo are about 1.5 meters at shoulder height and its head and body can be up to 3 meters in length. Adult buffalo can weigh up to 750 kg.
As a member of the “Big 5”, Buffalo are sought after by trophy hunters. That being said, the Buffalo has also earned the name of “widow-maker” or “black death” by hunters. If this animal is just wounded by a hunter it will ambush and attack its pursuers. Lions will occasionally prey on buffalo, but in order to take down a buffalo, it usually takes a whole pride of lions. Old solitary buffalo or calves are often taken down by crocodiles while cheetah, hyena and leopard usually only prey on the very young buffalo.
Buffalo cows have a gestation period of about 11.5 months. They have a single calf. The mating takes place in the rainy season and so does the birthing. Buffalo mothers keep their new born calves hidden where they will nurse it until it is ready to join the herd. She will look after the calf until the she has a new baby. Unusual for bovines, the calf suckles from behind, between the mothers back legs. Young buffalo can often be seen play fighting or chasing each other around. Mothers usually groom their young by licking them clean.
Of the Big 5, Buffalo are usually the most seen, as they roam throughout the Kruger National Park in huge herds, grazing on grass and small shrubs, normally close to a water source. Once the herd is done grazing in one area, a high ranking female or male buffalo will give a deeply pitched call and they will all move on to a new grazing area. Buffalo have an interesting herd structure. What may appear to be one huge herd is actually several different herds. Within the herd there will be a small herd of mothers that have calves. Another herd within a huge herd will consist of young males, of different ages. There are normally several of the young male herds within a herd. These young males often leave the herd and re-join at the mating season. All male groups will also join the main herd in the dry season, to help with the protection of the herd.