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Game Warden

Let's see your African Buffalo...

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Morkel Erasmus

This herd was feeding on the Puku flats along the Chobe river, photographed from a specialised photographic boat that we coaxed into their area gently.

 

 

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Morkel Erasmus

And of course, Mana Pools on foot! :D

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Dulini Moments

Years of experience are obvious on this beautiful 'Dugga Boy'....

 

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Soukous

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Game Warden

Fantastic images in this topic. @@Soukous Nice work on the latest conversion.

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Christopher Moran

While not up to the ST standard's, I do enjoy this shot -

 

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Taken in South Luangwa, 2012.

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theplainswanderer

Cape Buffalos

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

September 2014

 

 

Images of Cape Buffalos from recent safari

 

cheers

 

David Taylor

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mvecht

Waiting for the Lions to arrive

Kwando Lagoon August 2004

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inyathi

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The rest of me and some of my herd of Cape buffs nr Jongomeru in Ruaha NP Tanzania

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The rest of the herd

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Followed by some big buffalo bulls at Ndutu in the NCA in northern Tanzania

 

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These buffalos and all the preceding photos have all been of Cape buffalos this thread is after all entitled “Let’s see your Cape Buffalo” however the Cape or southern savannah buffalo Syncerus caffer caffer is just the most familiar of the four recognised subspecies of African buffalo it was formerly distributed throughout the savannahs of Eastern and Southern Africa wherever there is permanent water everywhere from southwest Ethiopia to the Cape. So the time has come to add some different buffalos. The African buffalo has only ever been known to occur south of the Sahara and so the first buffalos known to Europeans were from the Cape in South Africa hence the name the colonists in South Africa did a pretty good job of wiping out all of the larger game in the Cape such that as with elephants only one population of buffalos survived in the Addo bush. These buffalos had the good fortune to survive but also to remain disease free so many of the buffalos reintroduced in other parts of the Cape and around South Africa were taken from Addo NP.

 

That’s enough about Cape buffalos it’s now time to add some different African buffalos

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Game Warden

Shall I edit the title?

 

Thanks as always.

 

Matt

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inyathi

@@Game Warden Yes that would be good thanks at least I think so

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inyathi

Forest Buffalo Syncerus caffer nanus

 

Also known as the dwarf or red buffalo and in parts of West Africa the bush cow lives in the rainforests of the Congo Basin from the Uganda border across the D.R.C. and southern C.A.R. to Gabon, Cameroon and southeast Nigeria and further west in the rainforests of Upper Guinea from southwest Ghana to Guinea Bissau. Thanks to meat poaching forest buffalo populations are generally declining particularly in the West where only small scattered populations remain in protected areas like Tai NP in Ivory Coast. In Central Africa they are fairing somewhat better in some of the larger parks like Loango and Lope in Gabon and Odzala Kokoua, Nouabale Ndoki and Conkouati-Douli NPs in Congo Brazzaville. A small population that existed on the island of Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea was exterminated by the early 20th Century. While savannah buffalos may sometimes congregate in herds numbering in the thousands forest buffalos are only ever found in small herds usually of around a dozen living at much lower densities particularly in closed forest. Being grazers they do better and live at higher densities in areas where grasses are plentiful such as in the savannah forest mosaic habitat found in Loango and Lope.

 

In Loango National Park in Gabon forest buffalos often wander out onto the Atlantic Ocean beaches to graze on the salt laden grasses

 

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Gabon and São Tomé & Principe 10th Feb to the 2nd March 2008

 

Edited by inyathi

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Game Warden

Done, thanks @@inyathi for the prompt.

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inyathi

The forest buffalo is a good deal smaller weighing in at just 250-320kgs as opposed to 500-800kgs for the Cape is often very red in colour has long hairy fringes on its ears and no boss on its horns which are short and swept backwards to make it easier for them when moving through the forest. Some of the impressive horns in previous photos of Cape buffalo would be a serious hindrance in the rainforest.

 

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While Cape buffalos in parks like Ruaha can form vast herds this is a typical sized herd of forest buffalos in Loango NP

 

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Although often reddish in colour they come in a variety of different shades of brown which no doubt changes with age

 

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Forest buffalo herd accompanied by a woolly-necked stork

Edited by inyathi

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Kitsafari

@@inyathi Lovely to see the forest buffalo and the 2 calves. i'm not familiar with the ecosystems in east and southern africa - is it because of the lack of forests that they are not found in these areas? and given forests have little grass in there, they would need to emerge often to graze, or are they also browsers? although I imagine that all buffaloes should be grazers... i'm still learning!

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inyathi

@@Kitsafari Although they may not be as well adapted to a forest environment Cape buffaloes certainly do live in forests and most of the major forests in Eastern and Southern Africa either have or did have buffaloes living there. So you find Cape buffaloes in the forests of the Aberdares and Mt kenya and on Mt Kilimanjaro for example and formerly in Kakamega forest in western Kenya. Some of these forests would in the past have been connected to the forests of the Congo Basin but became separated as the climate dried if they had forest buffaloes back then they have since been replaced by Cape buffaloes. Where the two races overlap in the far west of Uganda or formerly in Angola you find hybrid populations for example many of the buffaloes in Queen Elizabeth NP in Uganda are very brown but otherwise have the appearance of Cape buffaloes. So if there were small isolated populations of forest buffaloes in areas now dominated by Cape buffaloes they would likely have disappeared through hybridisation but I don't know if this was actually the case.

 

All buffaloes wherever they are need water because they have to drink every day and they also need grasses because first and foremost they are grazing animals even forest buffaloes research in the rainforests of southern Cameroon has shown that 43% of their diet is made up of grasses. The rest of their diet does principally consist of browse; in closed forest both grasses and browse are in short supply as insufficient light reaches the forest floor for grasses and shrubs to grow, almost all of the foliage is up in the canopy well out of the reach of terrestrial herbivores. Forest buffalos though do still live in closed forest but they need more open habitats nearby to find sufficient food, preferring areas around watercourses and where there are grassy glades often known as bais which are formed and kept open by forest elephants. They do well in areas where you find a type of environment known as forest-savanna mosaic which consists of a mix of open savanna grassland and rainforest a habitat you find in the transition zone where the rainforest merges into the savanna along the northern and southern edges of the Congo Basin and the northern edge of the Upper Guinea rainforest. This type of habitat is also found in central Gabon in the north of Lope NP and along the Atlantic coast in amongst other places Loango NP along with plentiful grazing in the open areas the forest edge which gets plenty of sunlight provides a profusion of browse on low level vegetation that cannot grow deeper in the forest. As with other large forest herbivores they can actually benefit from selective logging and even some deforestation when it leads to the growth of secondary forest which provides plenty of accessible browse. Forest buffaloes are quite sedentary as the humid tropical climate allows for constant plant growth so a small area can support a population of buffaloes throughout the year.

 

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Forest-savanna mosaic in Loango NP there two forest elephants walking out in the open and a herd of forest buffaloes in the top corner

 

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Forest-savanna mosaic in Loango NP Gabon with the Atlantic Ocean just visible at the top, this type of habitat is common along the coast of Gabon

 

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Forest buffalo bull Loango NP in Gabon

 

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Aside from their small backwards pointing horns being an advantage in the forest evolution would also likely not favour the development of huge horns because forest buffaloes only live in small herds at much lower densities than savanna buffaloes and therefore don’t have to fight so much.

 

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Forest buffaloes can be quite wary although the adults really have very little to fear as lions are almost completely absent from anywhere where these buffaloes occur, however calves though are undoubtedly preyed upon by leopards which are found throughout their range. Even when they’re right out in the open there’s usually forest nearby so in the event of danger they can quickly bolt for cover.

Edited by inyathi

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inyathi

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Forest Buffalo hidden in the long grass in Lope NP Gabon

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Langoué Bai in Ivindo NP Gabon, bais the Bayaka name for these large clearings are rich in grasses and sedges which are a valuable food source for forest buffaloes and other herbivores. The actions of forest elephants digging for minerals and the grazing and browsing of elephants, buffaloes and other animals helps to create these bais and keeps them open ensuring that there is always a rich food supply for large herbivores that might otherwise struggle inside the rainforest.

Forest buffaloes not only come out of the forest to graze but also to wallow in the mud of the waterhole that the elephants have created in their search for minerals.

 

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Forest elephants, forest buffaloes & sitatunga buck at the Langoué Bai waterhole

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Forest Buffaloes with cattle egrets

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Very relaxed

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inyathi

Central African savanna buffalo Syncerus caffer aequinoctialis

 

Sometimes known as the Nile buffalo is found in the savannahs north of the Congo Basin from south eastern Chad and northern C.A.R. to western Ethiopia. Zakouma NP in south eastern Chad now the best protected park in the region thanks to the stewardship of African Parks is one of the principal strongholds for this subspecies with a population of over 10,000 and rising. Another very important park for this subspecies is Garamba NP in the far north of the DRC also managed by African Parks the vast herds that formerly roamed this park were decimated by poachers from Sudan resulting in the virtual disappearance of buffaloes from the north of Garamba. However 6,000 were counted in the park in 2012 and doubtless the number has risen slightly since then and should go on rising as the security situation continues to improve. Elsewhere the situation is not so good in 1981 60,000 were counted in Southern NP in South Sudan but in 2007 not one was counted, there are thought to be good numbers in Boma NP but with the civil war still unresolved one can only hope that these buffaloes don’t go the same way as those in Southern NP. Buffaloes are extremely susceptible to the disease rinderpest which has thankfully now been eradicated and it is likely that buffaloes disappeared from central and eastern Ethiopia as a result of the inadvertent introduction of this disease to Eritrea in 1887. Outside the remote western Gambella region where these buffaloes do still occur, any small remnant populations of Central African buffaloes that survived the rinderpest would likely have soon succumbed to over hunting. The small population that survived in neighbouring Eritrea was hunted to extinction sometime in the 20th Century.

 

The following photos were all taken in Zakouma NP in Chad

 

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Among Zakouma’s buffalo herds more than a few of the animals look like these, their striking red colouration and long hairy fringes on their ears immediately call to mind some of the forest buffaloes of the Congo Basin which can be found not really that far away in the south of C.A.R.

 

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However they are larger and if you compare their horns to those of the forest buffaloes in my preceding photos you will see they are much longer and don’t point backwards, they stick out to the side and curl up like those of a Cape buffalo except when they have no boss like these two they’re almost more like the horns of a wild water buffalo.

 

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This one however does have a bit of a boss but one that is nothing like as pronounced as on a big Cape bull

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inyathi

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Other buffaloes in Zakouma look more like this one, while it doesn't have a very pronounced boss it wouldn't look out of place in the midst of a herd of Cape buffaloes.

 

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Likewise this one but for the ridges on its horns and its somewhat pale hindquarters looks not that unlike a Cape buffalo

 

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Really Zakouma's buffaloes are something of a mixture in appearance coming in a whole variety of different shades of brown and with horns of various shapes and lengths seeming to have characteristics of both forest and Cape buffaloes almost as if they are hybrids though they are not.

 

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Edited by inyathi

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pault

@@inyathi. Great posts - excellent summary and I had two questions but both were answered (well, as clearly as it probably can be in the case of the buffaloes of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

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Kitsafari

@@inyathi. Great posts - excellent summary

 

+1

 

@@inyathi these have been most enlightening and educational.

 

if i may say something rather frivolous, the Nile buffaloes look the most attractive! their colouring is so rich and deep.

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inyathi

Here's a last few photos from Zakouma for now, seeing these very different looking buffalos was one of the many highlights of visiting Zakouma so I hope I will get to see them again and will have many more photos of these beautiful bovines.

 

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I think it's now over to you @Safaridude to complete the set with some western buffs.

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Safaridude

West African savanna buffalo (all images from Pendjari National Park, Benin):

 

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Edited by Safaridude

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Kitsafari

beautiful bovines. all you guys are making my heart aflutter with these buffaloes. who would have thought I would have found buffaloes so fascinating? :)

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TonyQ

What a great thread! Such knowledge and expertise, beautifully illustrated. Animals that are easily taken for granted are fascinating.

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