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African buffalo

The African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a strong, majestic animal which, along with the lion, is considered king of the African savanna. It belongs to the Bovidae family and it is one of the most ferocious African species there is.

The African buffalo is big and strong, weighing up to 2,200 pounds. Its fur is black or dark brown and is longer at the tip of its tail and the edges of its ears. The most characteristic feature of this animal is its thick, long horns which, in the case of the Syncerus caffer caffer subspecies, are curved at the end.

Scientific name:

Syncerus caffer


Syncerus caffer








Grass, leaves, and bushes.


11-12 months.

Number of puppies

1 or 2


Maximum of 18-20 years in the wild.


Up to one ton.


2,5 m

Habitat of the African buffalo

This animal lives in the forests and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. It mainly lives in Eastern Africa as well as in the center of the continent, in areas from Senegal to Ethiopia. In general, it prefers plains rather than mountains. Most of all, it likes to live in places where there is abundant water, so it avoids arid areas. It is common to find them immersed in mud.

Diet of the African buffalo

Like all species of the Bovidae family, it is strictly an herbivore. It mainly eats grass, which it supplements with the leaves of trees and bushes. Given its diet, its preferred habitat is the plains and African savanna.

Behavior of the African buffalo

This species is sociable by nature and always lives in herds, which can vary in size from a few individuals to up to thousands of them. One curiosity is that males stay at the edge of the herd whereas the females and offspring situate themselves in the middle, where they are more protected.

The African buffalo spends the hottest hours of the day sleeping in the shade or grazing in muddy puddles. It is a dangerous animal that is irritable and bad-tempered, especially if it feels threatened or has been wounded. It can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. For these reasons, the African buffalo has practically no predators except for the lion and the Nile crocodile. It is also one of the African animals that is most feared by hunters and locals.

Reproduction of the African buffalo

There is no specific mating season for this species, given that its area of distribution is very big and the climatic conditions vary throughout the African continent. Therefore, mating season depends on the area where it lives, though it tends to take place before the rainy season. After gestation of around one year, they give birth to one or two young.

Keep in mind that that there are different sub-species of the Syncerus caffer, with big differences between them. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states that there are four subspecies, but recognizes that there are doubts about the validity of this classification.

The two subspecies that are clearly different are the African buffalo, also known as the Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer), which is the biggest of all and which is most widely distributed throughout the continent, and the African forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus), which lives in jungle areas in countries such as Angola, Nigeria, and western areas. It is brown, much smaller, and has horns that are shorter and point backwards.

Degree of threat

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s red list classifies this species as “near threatened” and estimates that the global population is less than 400,000 individuals. Its condition has worsened with respect to the previous report, which listed its population at around 900,000 buffaloes.

Degree of threat


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Savannas, meadows, scrub land, and wetlands.