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Also known as the African buffalo, is a typical subspecies and the largest found in Southern and East Africa. The adult African buffalo’s horns are its characteristic feature because of the fused bases that form 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. ”most aggressive” its sounds odd but sambiya river lodge hosts a buffalo family often seen on site. However these mammals can be spotted on a game drive in all savanna parks of Uganda.
Compared with other large bovids , it has a long but stocky body (the body length can exceed the wild water buffalo which is heavier and taller and short but thickset legs, resulting in a relatively short standing height. Cape buffaloes weigh 425 to 870 kg (937 to 1,918 lb) (males weigh about 100 kg (220 lb) more than females). In comparison, The African forest buffalo at 250 to 450 kg (600 to 1,000 lb), are only half. its head is carried low; its top is located below the backline. The front hooves of the buffalo are wider than the rear, which is associated with the need to support the weight of the front part of the body, which is heavier and more powerful than the back.
Savannah-type buffaloes have black or dark brown coats with age. Old bulls often have whitish circles around their eyes and on their face. Females tend to have more-reddish coats. Forest-type buffaloes are 30-40% smaller, reddish brown in colour, with much more hair growth around the ears and with horns that curve back and slightly up. Calves of both types have red coats.
The African buffalo is one of the most successful grazers in Africa. It lives in savanna, swamps and flood plains as well as montane grasslands, and the forests of the major mountains of Africa. This buffalo prefers a habitat with dense cover, such as reeds and thickets, but can also be found in open woodland. While not particularly demanding in regard to habitat, they require water daily, and so they depend on perennial sources of water. how much do you think the eat in a day ? Herds of buffalo mow down grasses and make way for more selective grazers. When feeding, the buffalo makes use of its tongue and wide incissor 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/ poachers, African buffaloes have few predators and are capable of defending themselves against (and killing) lions. Lions do kill and eat buffaloes regularly, and in some regions, the buffaloes are the lions’ primary prey. It often takes several lions to bring down a single adult buffalo, and the entire pride may join in the hunt. However, several incidents have been reported in which one adult male lions have successfully brought down adult buffaloes. The average-sized nile crocodile typically attacks only old solitary animals and young calves, though they can kill healthy adults. The cheetah, leopard, African wild dog and spotted hyna are normally a threat only to newborn calves, though larger clans of hyenas have been recorded killing cows (mainly pregnant ones) and, on rare occasions, full-grown bulls. Large packs of wild dogs have been observed to hunt calves and sick adults.
Males have a linear dominance hierarchy based on age and size. Since a buffalo is safer when a herd is larger, dominant bulls may rely on subordinate bulls and sometimes tolerate their copulation. The young males keep their distance from the dominant bull, which is recognizable by the thickness of his horns.
Adult bulls spar in play, dominance interactions, or actual fights. A bull approaches another, lowing, with his horns down, and waits for the other bull to do the same thing. When sparring, the bulls twist their horns from side to side. If the sparring is for play, the bull may rub his opponent’s face and body during the sparring session. Actual fights are violent but rare and brief. Calves may also spar in play, but adult females rarely spar at all.
During the dry season, males split from the herd and form bachelor groups.Two types of bachelor herds occur: ones made of males aged four to seven years and those of males 12 years or older. During the wet season, the younger bulls rejoin a herd to mate with the females. They stay with them throughout the season to protect the calves. Some older bulls cease to rejoin the herd, as they can no longer compete with the younger, more aggressive males.
African buffaloes engage in several types of group behavior. Females appear to exhibit a sort of “voting behavior”. During resting time, the females stand up, shuffle around, and sit back down again. They sit in the direction they think they should move. After an hour of more shuffling, the females travel in the direction they decide. This decision is communal and not based on hierarchy or dominance.
When chased by predators, a herd sticks close together and makes it hard for the predators to pick off one member. Calves are gathered in the middle. A buffalo herd responds to the distress call of a threatened member and tries to rescue it.A calf’s distress call gets the attention of not only the mother, but also the herd. Buffaloes engage in mobbing behaviour when fighting off predators. They have been recorded killing lions and chasing lions up trees and keeping them there for two hours, after the lions have killed a member of their group.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Besides poaching, Buffalos are not at any risks or danger of extinction because most national parks of uganda have them in thousands.
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