African buffalo is considered the largest not only among all buffaloes, but also among wild bulls. He is dangerous and vulnerable at the same time, has a memorable appearance, a specific disposition and it will be interesting to learn more about him.
African buffaloes, they are also black buffalo or Syncerus caffer in Latin, are members of the family of bovids and are relatives of yaks, bison, bison, etc.
Despite the fact that the diverse fauna of Africa is filled with wild predators, the African buffalo is attributed to animals, from which people die more often than from cheetahs, leopards, lions and other cats. So to speak, they are second only to hippos and Nile crocodiles.
They undoubtedly stand out for their impressive mass:
- 1200 kg in males of "advanced age";
- 800-900 kg - adult "bulls";
- 600 kg - specimens younger, incl. females.
At the same time, they are smaller than, for example, Indian buffaloes, reaching 1.8 m at the withers, and African buffalo on average have a height of about 1-1.4 m, sometimes 1.6 m with a body length of up to 3 m. they also have low limbs, a stocky physique.
The main force is concentrated in the front of the case. For this reason, hooves on the front legs are many times larger than on the hind legs, this helps the animal maintain its own weight.
A characteristic feature in their appearance are horns. They not only adorn and highlight African buffaloes, but also serve as their weapons. Strong, curved up buffalo horns reach about 1 m in length from one edge to the other, about a quarter less in females. On the head of adult males, you can see a bone shell, it appears as a result of the fusion of horns and is able to protect the animal even from bullets. In the "female half" such a phenomenon is not observed, and the horns themselves are thinner.
The skin of each individual has a dark brown or black color, sparse but stiff hair grows on the body.
It is generally accepted that the African buffalo, despite some differences in specimens, is represented by one species. However, its subspecies are distinguished:
- red (or dwarf);
- and nile buffaloes.
Once upon a time there were ten times more, about 90.
Today, the Cape subspecies is called the most huge and ferocious, it is also a black buffalo. True, females are brown with a red tint. Old individuals lose almost all their hair, remaining as if bald. Nile subspecies has slightly smaller sizes and lighter colors.
The African dwarf buffalo is the exact opposite of its fellow. He is red, with dark spots on his shoulders and head, has tassels on his ears. The mass reaches up to 270 kg, and in height - up to 1.2 m. Horns do not reach up to 40 cm, moreover, they do not grow together.
The intermediate in place parameters is occupied by the Sudanese subspecies and mountain. They weigh no more than 600 kg.
By the way, not everyone believes that red and mountain subspecies generally need to be attributed to the African species.
The place of residence of formidable hornies is the warm regions of Africa: forests, savannahs, mountains, south of the Sahara. When choosing a territory, African buffaloes give preference to areas with extensive water sources and pastures with densely growing grass. They in every possible way avoid close proximity to people.
Each subspecies is characterized by its own habitat. Representatives of dwarf buffalo are located in the wooded areas of the West and the Center of Africa. Also in the Western territories of Africa, in particular in Cameroon, Sudanese representatives of the species live.
Cape gobies run along savannas located in the Eastern and Southern parts, and Nile bulls are found in Sudan, Ethiopia, Congo, Uganda (northeast) and Central Africa. The mountain subspecies rides mainly in eastern Africa.
In addition, African buffalo is found in reserves and zoos.
In the wild, African buffalo live for about 15 years. The reserves are much longer - 20-30 years. The implementation of long migrations is not typical for wild gobies; they prefer to settle in one place. Perhaps this is due to the fact that they are lazy and do not move too willingly.
African buffalo is a herd of animals. Individuals group in groups of 20-30 goals, and during the drought period they go in hundreds.
The herd scheme is as follows: older individuals, who are also the most experienced, stand on their sides to be able to observe what is happening around, notice dangers, etc. It is they who give the signal of escape for all members of the herd. All who are younger, incl. very small buffalo walking in the center.
Groups can be mixed (males, females, young growth), consist exclusively of “youth” (individuals from 4 to 10 years old) or of “old men” (over 10 years old). Moreover, the latter is a fairly common occurrence, as age-old buffaloes leave their herd and may not even unite, but wander alone. Sometimes they carry out their attacks for no reason, although on the whole they tend to go about their business, not paying attention to others: eat, relax, and only in a certain area.
Typically, the territory occupied by buffalo groups is 100, sometimes 200 square meters. km
These horned inhabitants of the open spaces of hot Africa prefer to graze in the dark. In the afternoon they usually lie in the shade, fall out in the mud. They rarely rest near ponds, using them mainly just to get drunk. They drink 30-40 liters of water per day.
The special structure of the stomach, consisting of 4 chambers, affects the way of eating. First, the first gastric section is completely filled, food that animals do not even chew heavily enters into it, then part of this food burps back into the oral region and already chews thoroughly there.
Buffalo is served as grass food, including shrub branches and dried plants. The volume of the daily norm is up to 2% of the weight of the animal.
The rampage of their character is probably somewhat exaggerated. They can behave calmly until they sense danger. Running back a certain distance from the enemy, they make a sharp turn and face the enemy.
It is noted that the mass groups of African buffalo are not accidental: they are their main weapon. They are happy to rush to the rescue of a comrade who has landed in the clutches of a predator, and together fight off the attack.
They “fight” among themselves during the rut: they attack, break their horns, but they do not finish off the loser.
With the onset of the rainy season, and this is from March to May, the mating season comes. This means that you can observe the fights characteristic of this period. Intimidating each other, the males roar loudly, start snorting, throwing their heads back while tearing the ground with their hooves, fighting, etc. Without understanding what is around, they even fight with trees. The most courageous and strong become successors of the clan.
It happens that one bull needs several "wives", and he collects himself a whole harem.
The buffalo hatches one cub and lasts from 10 to 11 months. Before giving birth, it is separated from the herd and takes a quiet place to complete this process.
Children are born worthy of their parents, weighing 50-60 kg. After about 15 minutes they already go after their mother, but they do not leave their mother until the age of 4. They feed on milk for about 6 months, although after a month they have already tried weed and grow quickly.
The grown females remain in their native collective, and the males are forced to leave it.
The weak point of the hornet is their vision: they are short-sighted, but this drawback is offset by a developed sense of smell. If they do not see the enemy, they can smell it, the main thing is that the wind blow in the right direction. They also hear perfectly.
The slowness and slowness of buffaloes gives way to relative agility when it comes to saving your life. Running away, they accelerate to 57 km / h.
Foes of buffalo
Looking at a photo of an African buffalo, it's hard to believe that it can have enemies. But lions, crocodiles, hyenas, etc. often make attacks on them. Bulls, of course, are able to fight back, however, if we are talking about babies, then the chances are unequal.
Bloodsuckers and other insects also interfere with them. Different birds try to help the hornet by hatching parasites from them. But there are hard-to-reach places where insects nevertheless spoil their life, drink blood, lay their larvae, and infect infections. It saves swimming in the mud: drying up, it falls away with uninvited guests.
A person can also be called their enemy. Since ancient times, people hunt for buffaloes for the sake of skin and meat. Despite numerous prohibitions, poachers do not stop contributing to a decrease in the population.