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bovid family
bovid family
other herbivores
carnivores
primates

wildlife (back to intro)

in this section
Blue Duiker
Dik-Dik
Gazelle tribe
Thomson's gazelle
Grant's gazelle
Gerenuk
Kob antelope
Waterbuck
Sable antelope
Oryx or Gemsbok
Hartebeest
Topi or Tsessebe
Common Wildebeest
Impala
Bushbuck
Sitatunga
Greater Kudu
Bongo
Common eland
African or Cape buffalo
Giraffe
African or Cape Buffalo: Syncerus caffer

The only native African tribe that includes wild and domestic cattle. Buffalo are the most advanced and most recent ruminants to evolve.

Characteristics

Weight and Height
males: wt 935-1914 lb (425-870 kg), ht 60-66 in (150-165 cm)
females: wt 1267 lb (576 kg), ht 54-60 in (135-150 cm)

Horns
males: broad base, shielding forehead; width: 40 in (100 cm),48 to 50 in (117-150 cm) long.
Females' are typically 10 to 20% narrower and shorter.

Coat
short and thin


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Colors
Adults are usually black to dark brown without markings, young are black or dark brown, then change to yellow-brown, then to reddish or chocolate brown.

General Locations
Buffalos were formerly found in the northern and southern savannas, but are now only found in lowland rainforests where the buffalos inhabit clearings, swamps, and floodplains.

Buffalos can be seen in the following national parks and reserves: Masai Mara NR, Kenya; Ngorongoro Crater, Manyara NP, Tanzania; Kafue NP, Zambia; Hwange NP, Zimbabwe; Kruger NP, South Africa.


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Habitat
Buffalos are most abundant in swamps, floodplains, and savannas where water is easily accessible. Herds can live in open woodlands, but prefer high grass or thickets for cover. Herbs and foliage make up 5% of the buffalo's diet. This percentage is considerably higher during the dry season, when grass is scarce. Buffalos must drink daily if grazing on hay, otherwise they can go without water for several days as long as the food has absorbed water.

Activity
Buffalos are considered nocturnal, but can also be seen during the day. They typically spend about 5 to 10.5 hours each day hunting for food. It is not uncommon for a herd of buffalos to travel 17 mi (27 km) for food and water during the dry season. However, in the breeding season herds only range about 2 mi (5.5 km) daily.


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Social Systems
Buffalos live in large herds and are quite sociable. Herd sizes depend on habitat and size and productivity of pasture. For example, on a broad floodplain herd sizes range from 19 to 2075, with the average being about 450 members. In the forests and other small areas there are typically about 50 buffalos per herd.

Home ranges vary in size from 4 sq mi (10.5 sq mi) for a herd of 138 buffaloes to 114 sq mi (296 sq km) for a herd of 1500.

Reproduction
The gestation period is 11.5 months, which is one of the longest known. Birth peaks come early in the rainy season while mating peaks are later. A female has her first calf by the age of 5 and males mature by the age of 8 or 9.

Predators
Lion and spotted hyena.



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