Cape Buffalo

Cape Buffalo     Syncerus caffer

Type of Animal:
Wild Cattle

Savannah, grassland, swamps, floodplains, woodlands, forest edge

Much of Sub-Saharan Africa, excluding deserts & many forests

Largest African bovine, bulls larger than cows, both sexes have curvy horns, bull horns thicker/longer, dark brown to black, droopy ears, bulls have 2 in thick neck hide.


Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks

Herds of 50-500 animals. Some mega-herds of over 1,000. Some older bulls solitary. Bachelor herds also occur.

Additional Info:


Male-2,000 lbs
Female-1,700 lbs
Young-530 lbs

11.5 months 

Life Span:
20 years in wild, up to 30 years in captivity

Male-5-5.5 ft
Female-4.5 ft

Body Length:
Male-10-11 ft
Female-7 ft

Tail Length:
Male-40 in
Female-35 in

Main predators are lions, hyenas, wild dogs, & crocodiles. Cheetahs & leopards prey on calves.

Often accompanied by birds such as oxpeckers & cattle egrets, which feed on insects in grass & on skin.

Almost never found far from water.

Immune to bovine sleeping sickness, which affects domestic cattle. However, susceptible to other diseases, such as bovine tuberculosis & foot-and-mouth disease.

A rinderpest (cattle plague) epidemic in 1890’s took drastic toll on the population.

Sometimes persecuted due to crop damage & potential to spread disease to livestock.

Sometimes competes w/ domestic cattle for grazing.

Calves born in rainy seasons.

Fun Fact(s):
Known to have great memories.

Besides being extremely dangerous when wounded, cows extremely protective of calves & solitary bulls often very temperamental.

Due to their danger, they’ve been called “Black Death” or “widowmaker.” Some estimates believe they kill as many as 200 people a year.

They’ve been known to kill lion cubs as a preventative strategy.

One of five members of Africa’s Big Five (other 4 being lion, elephant, rhino, & leopard).

One of the most dangerous animals to hunt & believed to have killed more big-game hunters than any other African animal. Extremely dangerous when wounded.

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