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sub-Saharan African bovine.[2] Syncerus caffer caffer, the Cape buffalo, is the typical subspecies, and the largest one, found in Southern and East Africa. S. c. nanus (the forest buffalo) is the smallest subspecies, common in forest areas of Central and West Africa, while S. c. brachyceros is in West Africa and S. c. aequinoctialis is in the savannas of East Africa. The adult African buffalo's horns are its characteristic feature: they have fused bases, forming a continuous bone shield across the top of the head referred to as a "boss". It is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous animals on the African continent, and according to some estimates it gores, tramples, and kills over 200 people every year.

The African buffalo is not an ancestor of domestic cattle and is only distantly related to other larger bovines. Its unpredictable temperament means that the African buffalo has never been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo. African buffaloes have few predators aside from lions and large crocodiles. As a member of the big five game, the Cape buffalo is a sought-after trophy in hunting.

  • Sudan buffal

    Sudan buffaloes (S. c. brachyceros) at Pendjari National Park, Benin

  • Masai Mara, Kenya

  • Ecology

    The African buffalo is one of the most successful grazers in Africa. It lives in swamps and floodplains, as well as mopane grasslands, and the forests of the major mountains of Africa.[15] Thi

    The African buffalo is one of the most successful grazers in Africa. It lives in swamps and floodplains, as well as mopane grasslands, and the forests of the major mountains of Africa.[15] This buffalo prefers a habitat with dense cover, such as reeds and thickets, but can also be found in open woodland.[16] While not particularly demanding in regard to habitat, they require water daily, and so they depend on perennial sources of water. Like the plains zebra, the buffalo can live on tall, coarse grasses. Herds of buffalo mow down grasses and make way for more selective grazers. When feeding, the buffalo makes use of its tongue and wide incisor row to eat grass more quickly than most other African herbivores. Buffaloes do not stay on trampled or depleted areas for long.

    Other than humans, African buffaloes have few predators and are capable of defending themselves against (and killing) lions.[17] Lions do kill a

    Other than humans, African buffaloes have few predators and are capable of defending themselves against (and killing) lions.[17] Lions do kill and eat buffaloes regularly, and in some regions, the buffaloes are the lions' primary prey. It typically takes quite a few lions to bring down a single adult buffalo, and the entire pride usually joins in the hunt. However, several incidents have been reported in which lone adult male lions have successfully brought down adult buffaloes. The average-sized crocodile typically attacks only old solitary animals and young calves, though they can kill healthy adults. Exceptionally large, old male Nile crocodiles may become semi-habitual predators of buffaloes. This crocodilian is the only animal that typically takes down an adult buffalo alone, whereas a pride attack is the preferred method of lions when taking down such large prey.[3][18][19] The cheetah, leopard, and spotted hyena are normally a threat only to newborn calves, though very large clans of spotted hyenas have been recorded killing cows (mainly pregnant ones) and, on very rare occasions, full-grown bulls.[20][21][22]

    The African buffalo is susceptible to many diseases, including bovine tuberculosis, corridor disease, and foot and mouth disease. As with many diseases, these problems remain dormant within a population as long as the health of the animals is good. These diseases do, however, restrict the legal movements of the animals and fencing infected areas from unaffected areas is enforced. Some wardens and game managers have managed to protect and breed "disease-free" herds which become very valuable because they can be transported. Most well-known are Lindsay Hunt's efforts to source uninfected animals from the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Some disease-free buffaloes in South Africa have been sold to breeders for close to US$130,000.[23]

    Social behavior

    African buffaloes mate and give birth only during the rainy seasons. Birth peak takes place early in the season, while mating peaks later. A bull closely guards a cow that comes into heat, while keeping other bulls at bay.[16][24] This is difficult, as cows are quite evasive and attract many males to the scene. By the time a cow is in full estrus, only the most dominant bull in the herd/subherd is there.[16]

    Cows first calve at five years of age, after a gestation period of 11.5 months. Newborn calves remain hidden in vegetation for the first few weeks while being nursed occasionally by the mother before joining the main herd. Older calves are held in the centre of the h

    Cows first calve at five years of age, after a gestation period of 11.5 months. Newborn calves remain hidden in vegetation for the first few weeks while being nursed occasionally by the mother before joining the main herd. Older calves are held in the centre of the herd for safety.

    [30] The maternal bond between mother and calf lasts longer than in most bovids. That bonding ends when a new calf is born, and the mother then keeps her previous offspring at bay with horn jabs. Nevertheless, the yearling follows its mother for another year or so. Males leave their mothers when they are two years old and join the bachelor groups. Young calves, unusually for bovids, suckle from behind their mothers, pushing their heads between the mothers' legs.[31]

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    Two-week-old red calf
    At Kazinga Channel in Uganda

  • Female with red calf
    At Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania

  • Relationship with hu

    Female with red calf
    At Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania

    Relationship with humans

    CAMPFIRE payback programs to local areas.

    The African buffalo was listed as least concern by the IUCN "as the species had a global population estimated at nearly 900,000 animals, of which more than three-quarters are in protected areas. However, in 2019 the African buffalo was listed as a near threatened species, with only 400,000 individuals left. While some populations (subspecies) are decreasing, others will remain unchanged in the long term if large, healthy populations continue to persist in a substantial number of national parks, equivalent reserves and hunting zones in southern and eastern Africa."[1]

    In the most recent and available census data at continental scale, the total estimated numbers of the three savanna-type African buffalo subspecies (S. c. caffer, S. c. brachyceros and S. c. aequinoctialis) are at 513,000 individuals.[32]

    In the past, numbers of African buffaloes suffered their most severe collapse during the great rinderpest epidemic of the 1890s, which, coupled with pleuro-pneumonia, caused mortalities as high as 95% among livestock and wild ungulates.[33]

    Being a member of the big five game group, a term originally used to describe the five most dangerous animals to hunt,

    The African buffalo was listed as least concern by the IUCN "as the species had a global population estimated at nearly 900,000 animals, of which more than three-quarters are in protected areas. However, in 2019 the African buffalo was listed as a near threatened species, with only 400,000 individuals left. While some populations (subspecies) are decreasing, others will remain unchanged in the long term if large, healthy populations continue to persist in a substantial number of national parks, equivalent reserves and hunting zones in southern and eastern Africa."[1]

    In the most recent and available census data at continental scale, the total estimated numbers of the three savanna-type African buffalo subspecies (S. c. caffer, S. c. brachyceros and S. c. aequinoctialis) are at 513,000 individuals.[32]

    In the past, numbers of African buffaloes suffered their most severe collapse during the great rinderpest epidemic of the 1890s, which, coupled with pleuro-pneumonia, caused mortalities as high as 95% among livestock and wild ungulates.[33]

    Being a member of the big five game group, a term originally used to describe the five most dangerous animals to hunt, the Cape buffalo is a sought-after trophy, with some hunters paying over $10,000 for the opportunity to hunt one. The larger bulls are targeted for their trophy value, although in some areas, buffaloes are still hunted for meat.

    One of the "big five" African game, it is known as "the Black Death" or "the widowmaker", and is widely regarded as a very dangerous animal. According to some estimates,[which?] it gores and kills over 200 people every year.[citation needed] African buffaloes are sometimes reported to kill more people in Africa than any other animal, although the same claim is also made of hippopotamuses and crocodiles.[34] These numbers may be somewhat overestimated; for example, in the country of Mozambique, attacks, especially fatal ones, were much less frequent on humans than those by hippos and, especially, Nile crocodiles.[35] In Uganda, on the other hand, large herbivores were found to attack more people on average than lions or leopards and have a higher rate of inflicting fatalities during attacks than the predators (the African buffalo, in particular, killing humans in 49.5% of attacks on them), but hippos and even elephants may still kill more people per annum here than buffaloes.[36] African buffaloes are notorious among big-game hunters as very dangerous animals, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.[37]

    See also