Cape Buffalo

Mpala, Laikipia, Kenya

Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer) are massive bovids occurring in eastern and southern Africa. It’s hard to not marvel at the sheer size and strength of these animals. The tips of their horns can reach five to six feet high, and their weight ranges from 1300 to over 1600 pounds, in some populations capable of reaching a ton. Here at Mpala, cape buffalo can most easily be spotted in large herds at night, clearing through vegetation in their nocturnal foraging routes. The first buffalo I spotted was at night. All that I could see was a large black space between two giant glinting orbs. Sometimes we spot them during the day from great distances as they prefer the greener and more open areas across the savannah landscape. But it took me over a month to finally encounter a herd during the day at close range (from a vehicle, of course). There were over thirty members of this herd. Almost all of them stopped eating and gazed at us for a prolonged period of time before moving on their way. Buffalo join elephants and hippos as the most dangerous African megafauna. During altercations with lions, buffalo are capable of maiming, stomping, and killing the large predators. Many of these attacks are seemingly unprovoked, in which the buffalo preemptively defend their herd and young. Buffalo are purported to be easily agitated and are prone to instigating defensive pursuits on nearby humans as well. For this reason it is imperative to never be within close range of the cape buffalo while out on foot. Accidents are common, and the rate of fatalities resulting from attacks is very high.

Photographed after pursuit [3]

Herd of cape buffalo at Ol Pejeta Conservancy; hundreds together along the open plains. Photographed in situ [1]

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