The Cape buffalo can weigh as much as 900 kilograms and though they are heavy cow-like animals that feed on fresh green grass, they are not related to domestic cattle. Their habitat is incredibly varied and they can be found anywhere from open grasslands, and forests to swamplands and floodplains. Buffalo are also found in large herds, usually of a few hundred individuals, but can sometimes number in the thousands.
This is largely for protection against predators and also to work together to protect their young. Though herbivores, buffalo are not to be underestimated and are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. Their fused horned skulls act as a powerful defensive weapon against predators. Lions are their number one threat and there have been a number of incredible documentaries made showcasing this deep rivalry between relentless enemies.
Cape buffalo viewing on safari
The Cape buffalo is wide-spread across much of Southern and East Africa and can be seen in many of the major national parks and game reserves. As their habitat is so diverse, the buffalo is one of the more common sightings across the continent. Some of the largest herds of buffalo in Africa can be found in Tanzania’s Katavi National Park in the country’s west.
As they can be one of the more dangerous animals, most buffalo viewing is done by 4WD game vehicle. If in a large herd, they feel quite safe and will often come within 10 metres of the vehicle making for terrific game viewing and ample photo opportunities.
Alternatively there are also some places where you can view buffalo by boat or canoe. Botswana is one of the best places for this, notably along the Chobe River in the north of the country. You will often see Cape buffalo along the riverbanks, usually in small herds of lone bull males. The males eat the soft grasses along the river banks due to their worn teeth.
When viewing buffalo, you are almost guarantee to see oxpeckers – red-billed or yellow-billed. Oxpeckers have symbiotic relationship with buffalo and many other hooved mammals. They feed off the ticks and other parasitic animals found on the buffalo, whilst the buffalo is benefited from the removal of the ticks.