All About the Cape Buffalo

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posted on April 13, 2016
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It’s got tremendous curving horns, up to a ton of weight to throw around and an attitude that prompted author Robert Ruark to say, “A buffalo looks at you like you owe him money.” The Cape buffalo, also known as the African buffalo, has achieved legendary status among safarigoers, outdoor writers and hunters. A member of the “Big Five” of African hunting (along with lions, leopards, elephants and rhinoceri), the Cape buff is considered one of the most dangerous game animals on the planet.

Why is this so? Well, although it’s actually related to the domestic cow (Cape buffalo are, indeed, members of the bovine family), there’s nothing placid about this critter. They have few natural predators. This is as much about the buffalo’s instincts as it is about its size and formidable horns; when threatened, the herd will stick together tightly, calves in the middle, to make it tough for predators to pick one out. They’ll also “mob up” to fight off predators, even treeing lions the way your dog will tree a cat! What’s more, the Cape buffalo is said to kill over 200 humans a year. 

They are like the Holsteins you see at the farm in one way: Males are known as “bulls” and females as “cows,” while the young are “calves.” Males and females both have horns, although the males’ are thicker and join in the middle in a heavy structure known as the “boss.” Interestingly, the herds are matriarchal—meaning that a dominant female is in charge of the group. 

It’s estimated that there are a million Cape buffalo spread throughout Africa, and sport hunting of the animal is part of what has kept its numbers so high. Trophy hunters pay big bucks to chase this beast, much of which goes towards conservation and preventing poaching. 

FAST FACTS: 

* Elephants may never forget, but Cape buffalo never forgive. They’ve been known to attack people who harmed them years after the event. 
* Cape buffalo are four times as strong as oxen. A single buff can tip over a Range Rover! 
* The hide on a bull’s neck is up to 2 inches thick, which protects it during battles for dominance with other bulls.

 

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