Wildlife Wednesday: The Cape Buffalo

By Nkosinomusa Nyoni

A strong silent type of animal that is often referred to as the “Mafia” of the animal kingdom because of its unfeeling stare and unnerving demeanour that makes one squirm in their seat. Below are 6 amazing facts about the Cape buffalo:

1. HEAT OVERLOAD

Being large animals buffaloes easily overheat and because of this they feed mostly at night and rest during the heat of the day.

2. UNITED THEY STAND

When faced with predators, the herd forms a circle around the young, old or weak animals, exposing the large and sharp horns toward the predators. This barrier is very effective and prevents predators from reaching the animals that are not strong enough to fight.

3. THE DEBT COLLECTOR

A buffalo has an exceptional memory that will recognize a person that hurt it in the past and it will attack at its next encounter. This applies to lions as well, buffaloes will “preventively” kill cubs of lions that are known attackers of the herd.

4. THE BOSS

In adult male Cape buffaloes, the base of their distinct, curving horns come so close together that they fuse and this creates a sort of shield on their heads known as a “boss”. However, female buffalo horns do not have a “boss”, and this makes it easier for one to distinguish the male and female buffalo easily.  

© Pixabay

5. BUFFALOS “VOTE”

Several researchers have discovered an interesting phenomenon in the female Cape buffalo: they “vote” to decide which direction to move the herd in. During times of rest, the females sit on the ground facing the direction they think the herd should move. After the siesta finishes, the herd then moves in the direction that the majority were pointing towards. The most interesting aspect of this observed behaviour is that it is communal: the dominance hierarchy does not appear to influence the “votes” of individual buffalo.

6. TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Cape Buffaloes only give birth during the rainy season because there’s more abundance of vegetation and drinking water during the rainy season, which affords the new-born calves a higher chance of survival than if they were born during the dry season.

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