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Africa Buffalo Species


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Two great bulls taken with Rungwa Game Safaris

CAPE BUFFALO

Syncerus caffer caffer

Bufalo del Cabo (Sp), Kaffernbüffel, Schwarzbüffel (G), Buffle du Cap, Buffle noir(F). The common name "Cape buffalo" is misleading, because this subspecies is native to many parts of Africa besides the Cape of Good Hope region (where it is extinct); however, that is what most people call it.

DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 60-65 inches (150-165 cm). Weight 1,400-1,800 lbs (650-800 kg).

The Cape buffalo is the largest and darkest (black, or nearly so) of the African buffaloes. Its heavy horns curve outward and downward from massive bosses to well below skull level, then circle upward, inward and slightly backward.

DISTRIBUTION Savanna areas in Kenya, southern Somalia, Uganda except in the northwest, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania; all of Angola except for the far northwest; Katanga Province in southeastern Congo (K); Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, and northeastern Transvaal in South Africa. Has been reintroduced on private ranches in other parts of South Africa.

Central African Savanna Buffalo

Syncerus caffer brachyceros




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West African Savanna Buffalo from SCI record book

West African Savanna Buffalo

Syncerus caffer planiceros


DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 45-50 inches (115-125 cm). Weight 700-900 lbs (320-410 kg).


Smaller than the Central African savanna buffalo, with differently shaped horns. Most horns are rather similar to those of the dwarf forest buffalo, sweeping outward, backward and slightly upward; however, they are longer and heavier. Frontal bosses are absent or minimal. Body color varies from brownish black to reddish to tan, and different colors may be encountered in the same group.


DISTRIBUTION The savanna and woodland zone north of the high coastal rain forest in West Africa, from southern Senegal eastward through northern Guinea, southern Mali, northern Ivory Coast, southern Burkina Faso, northern Ghana, northern Togo, northern Benin, far southwestern Niger, northern Nigeria, and northern Cameroon.


For convenience in record keeping, we use the eastern border of Cameroon to separate the West African savanna buffalo from the Central African savanna buffalo to the east.


TAXONOMIC NOTES In previous editions, the West African and Central African savanna buffaloes were combined as the northwestern buffalo (S. c. brachycerosincluding planiceros).




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Central African Savanna Buffalo from Mayo Older

Central African Savanna Buffalo

DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 49-55 inches (125-140 cm). Weight 880 - 1,100 lbs (400-500 kg).

Larger in body and horns than the West African savanna buffalo, but smaller than the Nile buffalo. These animals exhibit considerable individual variation in size, color and horn configuration. Body color can be brownish black, reddish, or tan. Horn shape can vary from the Nile type to the West African savanna type. Different colors and various horn configurations are often seen in the same herd.

DISTRIBUTION The savanna and woodland zone north of the high equatorial rain forest in southern Chad, the Central African Republic except in the far southwest; and the northern edge of Congo (K), adjacent to the C.A.R. and east of Bangui.

For convenience in record keeping, we use the eastern border of Cameroon to separate the Central African savanna buffalo from the West African savanna buffalo to the west, and western border of Sudan to separate it from the Nile buffalo to the east.

TAXONOMIC NOTES In previous editions, the Central African and West African savanna buffaloes were combined as the northwestern buffalo (S. c. brachycerosincluding planiceros). However, we now feel they are sufficiently different to merit separation.




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Dawrf Forest Buffalo taken with Mayo Older Safaris

DWARF FOREST BUFFALO

Syncerus caffer nanus

Bufalo enano (Sp), WaldbüffelRotbüffel (G), Buffle nain (F). Also called red forest buffalo.

DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 40-45 inches (100-115 cm). Weight 550-700 lbs (250-320 kg).

The dwarf forest buffalo is the smallest, most lightly built African buffalo. Most are reddish or light tan in color, but old bulls may be dark brown. The face is narrower and straighter than in savanna buffalos, and the ears have a heavy fringe of hairs. The small horns are set apart without frontal bosses and curve outward, backward and slightly upward. They do not sweep down as they do in most savanna races, thus the ears are not hidden from view.

DISTRIBUTION The high coastal rain forest of West Africa, which includes the southwestern edge of Guinea; all of Sierra Leone except the northeast; all of Liberia; southern Ivory Coast; southwestern Ghana; and the southern tip of Nigeria. Also in the high rain forest of Central Africa, which includes southern Cameroon, the far southwestern part of the Central African Republic; all of Rio Muni, Gabon, and Congo (B); far northwestern Angola; and Congo (K) except the northern edge and Katanga Province.



 

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Jim Shcokey and a East African Savanna Buffalo

EAST AFRICAN SAVANNA BUFFALO

Syncerus caffer orientalis


DESCRIPTION: Shoulder height 49-55 inches (125-140 cm). Weight 880 - 1,100 lbs (400-500 kg).

Larger in body and horns than the West African savanna buffalo, but smaller than the Nile buffalo. These animals exhibit considerable individual variation in size, color and horn configuration. Body color can be brownish black, reddish, or tan. Horn shape can vary from the Nile type to the West African savanna type. The horns on an East African Savana Buffalo will never dip to eye level like the Nile buffalo that are hunted in Uganda. Different colors and various horn configurations are often seen in the same herd.


DISTRIBUTION:  For convenience in record keeping, We follow the western Ethiopian border then in the Gambella Region it follows the Akobo River into Sudan and to the Nile River. At that point it then follows the Nile north, with all regions east of the nile falling into the East African Savanna Buffalo Category.


TAXONOMIC NOTES: In previous editions, the Central African, West African, and East African savanna buffaloes were combined as the northwestern buffalo (S. c. brachyceros, planiceros, or orienalis). However, we now feel they are sufficiently different to merit separation.




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Giant Nile Buffalo taken with Uganda Wildlife Safaris

NILE BUFFALO

Syncerus caffer aequinoctialis

Bufalo del Nilo (Sp), Nile Büffel (G), Buffle equinoxial (F). Also called northeastern buffalo or equinoxial buffalo.

DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 55 inches (140 cm). Weight 1,100-1,300 lbs (500-590 kg).

The Nile buffalo is larger and usually darker than the Central African savanna buffalo. It is somewhat smaller than the Cape buffalo and not as dark, being brownish rather than black. Its smaller, flatter horns do not curve down to the level of the skull, so that when the skull is placed on the floor the horns do not touch the floor.

DISTRIBUTION Savanna areas of southern Sudan, western and southwestern Ethiopia, northeastern Congo (K) adjacent to Sudan, and northwestern Uganda along the Albert Nile.

For convenience in record keeping, we use the eastern borders of the C.A.R. and Chad to separate the Nile buffalo from the Central African savanna buffalo to the west.



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Buffalo species map from SCI

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Buffalo Species

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