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Let's see your African Buffalo...


Game Warden

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inyathi

Western savanna buffalo (Syncerus caffer brachyceros) originally occurred throughout the Guinean or West Sudanian savannas, that lie between the rainforests of the south and Sahel from Senegal in the west across to Chari River in western Chad in the East. The largest remaining population is in the so called WAP Complex that comprises ‘W’, Arly and Pendjari national parks on the borders of Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin.

 

I had meant to add a link to a distribution map, but I haven’t found one that shows the distribution of these four different subspecies, so here’s one just shows the current distribution of the whole species.

 

Distribution Map

 

As you can see from all the preceding photos African buffaloes, come in many different sizes and colours with a good variety of horn shapes depending on the subspecies. Over time the taxonomy of the African buffalo and the number of recognised subspecies has changed and is still disputed, many hunting websites for example regard the Nile buffalo and the Central African savanna buffalo as being different races, but this view is not widely accepted. I went with the taxonomy used in Kingdon’s Mammals of Africa, this just recognises the four subspecies seen in the preceding photos.

 

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Cape Buffalos coming to drink in Hwange NP in Zimbabwe

 

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Although I love to go down to the water for a long drink and a cooling bathe, please don't call me a water buffalo

 

A note on buffaloes or buffalos

 

While the number of subspecies may not be agreed on by everyone, what can be agreed on, is that the African buffalo, is the only species of true wild buffalo in Africa and it should not be confused with the water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis/arnee) which is a related, but entirely different species that originated in tropical Asia.

 

The name buffalo comes originally from the Ancient Greek word, boubalos which in Latin became bubalus and eventually bufalus, the name bubalus actually first referred to an African antelope, the bubal. This was the now sadly extinct north African race of the hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus buselaphus) which would have been very common in Roman times, but was hunted to extinction in Algeria in the early 20th century. However, the name then came to be used for the first domestic water buffaloes, that were introduced to the Mediterranean region many centuries ago. The first Europeans to see African buffaloes in the wild in the Cape, named them buffaloes because of their similarity to the water buffalo, that was then common in South Eastern Europe. For reasons that are not entirely certain, in North America, the name buffalo was given to the American bison (Bison bison)one theory is that French fur trappers, called them les boeufs which then became buffalo, but no one really knows, whatever the case for many Americans and Canadians, buffalo has remained the popular preferred name for the bison. It is perhaps for this reason, that many people mistakenly refer to African buffalo as water buffalo, to distinguish them from the American bison, which in their minds is the buffalo. Whatever the reason you will find countless photos of African buffaloes on the web incorrectly labelled water buffaloes, but while these animals are not water buffaloes, there are in fact water buffaloes in Africa.

 

At various times, domestic water buffaloes have been introduced, to a number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, for farming with varying degrees of success, but generally this has not been sufficiently successful, for domestic water buffaloes to be common anywhere south of the Sahara. In North Africa, however, particularly in Egypt water buffaloes are a very common farm animal and have been for centuries. In Tunisia a feral herd exists at Lake Ichkeul which is said to have been there since Roman times, though whether their origins really go back that far is doubtful. The African buffalo never existed north of the Sahara, possibly because the region was already inhabited, by the now extinct, African aurochs (Bos primigenius mauretanicus) exactly when this species the ancestor of the domestic cow, died out in Africa is not known, but the last of the European subspecies, died in the Jaktorów Forest in Poland in 1627.

 

There are also three other species of true buffaloes in Asia, although they’re not generally called buffaloes, the lowland anoa (Bubalus depressicornis) and the mountain anoa (Bubalus quarlesi) both from the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, and the tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis) on the Island of Mindoro in the Philippines.

 

For anyone who is unfamiliar with what a true water buffalo, should look like, Let’s see your Water Buffaloes

Edited by inyathi
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graceland

I saw so many buffalo when in Hwange, Zimbabwe.....large herds were present.

 

 

This is one of my favorites, as the buffalo had driven off a herd of elephant from the watering hole;

 

Yet one lone elephant wandered back right past the buffalos, as to say, I was here first; and you will not intimidate me.

 

 

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  • 4 months later...
Anomalure
Forest Buffalos, from Dzanga Bai, CAR. Others have done a great job showcasing the other Buffalo subspecies, all of which I hope to see someday (I've only seen Forest and Cape thus far). Regarding Central African Savanna Buffalo in CAR, I believe Chinko has quite healthy populations of buffalo in some areas (Chinko has something very similar in form to Forest Buffalo in their forest patches too, but not sure if they are "true" Forest Buffalo) and the Bili-Uere forest just to the south in DRC has plenty of both savanna and forest forms (esp. in Gangu Forest). Not sure how the situation is now in N CAR as that area has become something of an information black hole, but just before the coup, there were reasonable numbers of buffalo in MGSFNP and Bamingui-Bangoran NP, mainly in woodlands as the plains were taken over by large numbers of livestock (Andre Felix has been poached out for a long time). Large numbers of Buffalo were present in adjacent hunting areas however, such as in the Sangba pilot zone area and Idongo da Bangoran.

 

 

 

 

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I can't find the full text of a newer one from 2010… :angry:

 

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Anomalure

For anyone who's interested, I found the 2010 aerial survey!

 

Look up "Inventaire aerien des grands mammiferes dans le nord de la république centrafricaine" and go to the elephantdatabase.org pdf link.

 

Really sad, but still supports the fact that with some serious rehabilitation, it can all be salvaged… The species are still all there for the most part, just in lower densities than usual. Seems like Tiang though are almost gone from the region and I wonder what happened to things like Cheetah and Wild Dog which are supposed to be in N CAR too. That said, they didn't thoroughly survey Bahr Aouk Ouandja Vakaga Hunting zone and there are still Tiang over there (someone hunted one in 2013!! <_< ).

Edited by Anomalure
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  • 4 weeks later...
Tom Kellie

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Early Evening Buffalo in Nairobi National Park



~ Photographed on 28 July, 2015 at 6:40 pm in Nairobi National Park, Kenya, with a Sony RX1 R camera.



ISO 3200, f/3.2, 1/80 sec., 35mm focal length, handheld Automatic exposure.



*******************************************************************************************************



After sunset, we headed back towards the Emakoko and dinner. The lights of downtown Nairobi glittered on the horizon, not all that distant from our position.



We'd been watching birds, reedbuck, and a leaping duiker — my first sighting — at an isolated pond. No further sightings were expected in such low light.



Suddenly we were passing through a small herd of African Buffalo, including calves. We looked at them, they looked back. The final sighting on the final game drive.




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africawild

From Samburu

 

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Mike, I thought it was curious not only stopping to take pictures at the same buffalo ( i think ) but also do it with a similar frame!

 

 

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Taken in Samburu 8 years ago!

 

Paco

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Soukous

I was a bit surprised that for the first 2 days in Hwange I didn't see any buffalo at all, but then when we reached Sinematela that all changed.

We counted this herd to be in the region of 1500.

 

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Edited by Soukous
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  • 3 months later...

Sudanese buffalo, W National Park - Niger Dec '15

 

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Tom Kellie

~ @@wenchy

 

They're reddish, aren't they?

The buffalo in the center is more rounded than I've seen.

It's a special New Year's Day treat to see an image from Niger's W National Park.

About four months ago I read about it — you've visited!

Thank you for posting this, as I'm curious about Niger's wildlife.

Tom K.

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@@Tom Kellie

 

You're definitely right. I presume them to be Sudanese but some were definitely forest buff esque in fuzziness and light coloring - others darker. The proclivity for human aggression seems to transcend regional subspecies borders as these lads were equally as ornery.

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inyathi

@@wenchy It’s worth noting, in relation to names used for the various subspecies, that the region between Lake Chad and the Atlantic was (and maybe still is) known as Western Sudan and when what is now Mali was first established in early colonial times, it was for a time known as French Sudan. Therefore while to most of us, Sudan refers to the now two countries of Sudan and South Sudan, it can also refer to parts of West Africa. Looking at my old Collin’s Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa by Theodore Haltenorth first published in English in 1980 he just lists the Cape buffalo S. caffer caffer, forest buffalo S. c. nanus and Sudan buffalo S. c. brachyceros, but then he was good lumper, when it came to subspecies and even species. So, therefore at one time the animals of the West Sudanian savannas those in Pendjari and in W would have been called Sudan buffalo, as would those in Chad and those in what is now South Sudan. More recently they’ve been split, so that those in the West are now Western savanna buffaloes and those in Chad are Central African savanna buffaloes, with I presume the Chari River forming the boundary between the two. I'm sure originally before too much habitat destruction had occurred, there must have been a good deal of hybridisation, between forest and savanna populations in both West and Central Africa, just as there seems to be a hybrid zone between Cape and forest buffaloes in Western Uganda.

 

Here are a few more S. c. aequinoctialis from Zakouma

 

 

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Central African Buffalos at Rigueik Zakouma National Park in Chad by inyathi, on Flickr

 

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Central African Buffalos at Rigueik Zakouma National Park in Chad by inyathi, on Flickr

 

 

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Central African Buffalos at Dikere Zakouma National Park in Chad by inyathi, on Flickr

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inyathi
  • 2 weeks later...
Tom Kellie

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Don't Tread On Me



Photographed at 5:42 pm on 2 May, 2015 in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, using an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens.


ISO 12,800, 1/8000 sec., f/10, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.


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Don't Tread On Me’, so its visage seemed to say. Of course, such a stricture wouldn't apply to oxpeckers, which enjoy a permanent exemption in appreciation for the services they render.


The buffalo's bulk was as impressive when resting on the ground as when standing to glower at intruders. Whenever I first spot buffalo on any safari I smile, as doing so is symbolic of being in Africa enjoying the wilderness.

Edited by Tom Kellie
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Peter Connan

How does one scratch without hands?

 

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Cape buffalo, Clocolan, South Africa.

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inyathi

Here are some short videos from Zakouma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by inyathi
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Tom Kellie

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Buffalo Grazing



Taken on 4 October, 2015 at 5:23 pm in Sabi Sands, South Africa, using an EOS 1D X camera with an EF 200mm f/2.8L II telephoto lens

ISO 125, f/2.8, 1/125 sec., 200mm handheld Manual exposure while on a game drive from Leopard Hills


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~ Three grizzled old “dagga boys” were grazing immediately beside the track. Pausing to photograph them, we remarked to one another how placid they seemed despite the vehicle's proximity.


The powerful fused boss on their head was a textural contrast with the soft-looking fur on top of their necks. Formidable yet appealing animals which I enjoy seeing on game drives.

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Game Warden

@@Tom Kellie Great gnarly detail: I always think that buffs look good in B&W to enhance the grizzled textures.

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Tom Kellie

@@Tom Kellie Great gnarly detail: I always think that buffs look good in B&W to enhance the grizzled textures.

 

~ @@Game Warden

 

Do you know, I'd never considered that?

Done!

If I ever return to Africa for another safari, I'll make a point of shooting black & white on a game drive, especially where buffalo are likely to be sighted.

I've just uploaded seven more buffalo photos to my current Leopard Hills trip report.

I should have tried out black and white.

Thank you for the excellent suggestion!

Tom K.

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Game Warden

You can always convert with Photoshop...

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Tom Kellie

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Gnarly Boss



Taken on 4 October, 2015 at 5:24 pm in Sabi Sands, South Africa, using an EOS 1D X camera with an EF 200mm f/2.8L II telephoto lens

ISO 125, f/2.8, 1/125 sec., 200mm handheld Manual exposure while on a game drive from Leopard Hills


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Peter Muigai.

This was a morning meet and greet from this guy!

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Tom Kellie

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Cool Water for a Warm Evening



Photographed at 5:10 pm on 21 January, 2016 at Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa, using an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super-telephoto lens.


ISO 400, 1/1600 sec., f/6.3, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.


*****************************************************************************************************


~ The day had been noticeably warmer than usual, with frequent calls for bottled water. The game we observed appeared lethargic, not very motivated to do much more than stand in shade.


The exception were the African buffalo which were streaming towards a large waterhole, one of the few remaining full during the prolonged drought. We watched them cool themselves, wishing that we might do likewise.

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Bush dog

On Duba Plains, last month!

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  • 3 months later...
Bush dog

Masai Mara, May 2012

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Morkel Erasmus

Some great pics on here. A very underestimated/undervalued subject, but also hard to photograph.

 

"A buffalo looks at you like you owe him money..."

 

This one was scraping off some excess mud in the Mara Triangle earlier this month.

 

 

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