African Buffalo Facts for Kids

The African buffalo is nothing to be trifled with. A formidable bovine, it’s best known for its fused horns that form a continuous bone shield, often referred to as a ‘boss’.

This particular hoofed animal has earned its place in the wilds of Africa by being distinctly un-domesticated, not even taking the domestic Asian water buffalo into account.

Be warned though – the African buffalo belongs to the respected and feared Big Five. This phrase was introduced by hunters who wanted to distinguish amongst the most difficult animals to hunt.

And of all these beasts? It’s claimed that the African buffalo is the most perilous!

Small wonder – they have been known to stand their ground against predators like lions and hyenas and even humans sometimes. In any case, it goes without saying that if you’re looking for an adventure out in nature, this incredible animal should definitely be on your list!

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African Buffalo Facts for Kids

  • Also called Cape Buffalo.
  • Weigh up to 1,900 lbs (860 kg).
  • Live in herds for protection.
  • Grass-eaters, known as grazers.
  • Both males & females have horns.
  • Can run up to 35 mph (56 km/h).
  • Found in grasslands & savannas.
Key StatisticAfrican Buffalo
Scientific NameSyncerus caffer
SizeUp to 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) tall
WeightUp to 1,900 lbs (860 kg)
Lifespan15-25 years
Top Speed35 mph (56 km/h)
DietHerbivore (grazer)
HabitatGrasslands, savannas
Conservation StatusLeast Concern


The African buffalo is a force to be reckoned with. It has a strong and sturdy build, with a body length of 1.7 to 3.4 meters and a shoulder height of 1 to 1.7 meters. Standing at an impressive height, their tails can range up to 110 centimeters long.

The Savannah-type buffaloes are particularly robust, ranging in weight from 500 – 1,000 kgs, while Forest-type buffaloes weigh half the amount, coming in at around 250–450 kgs.

A feature unique to adult male Savannah-type buffaloes is the boss — the fusion of their horn bases, which form one continuous shield extending up to one meter between the ends of their horns.

You also can’t forget about color – as they age, Savannah-type buffaloes will have black or dark brown coats with white circles around their eyes for old bulls, whereas females tend to have redder coats; Forest-types however adopt a reddish brown tone overall and calves for both types take on rosy coats.

African buffaloes are renowned for their strength and resilience but also for the fascinating features that accompany them such as their distinctive horns and fur shades; making them easily distinguishable among other animals in nature’s kingdom.

But why do these creatures possess such special traits? It could be because of the support its front hooves provide for its weighty top half – wider than that on its rear end – allowing it to manage any obstacles caught along its path whilst keeping itself safe and secure during times of need!

Not only this but those five or six years old will find themselves having mastered one of life’s basic survival skills — defending oneself against potential naughtiness! It’s almost like they apply more pressure into developing certain traits during this period as they pride themselves on showing off a fully formed ‘boss’ shield…. now that must be something!

Although Cows generally showcase different yet well-rounded horns that average around 10–20% smaller than those handsome Bulls out there – with bronzed horns on Forest buffalo not much longer than 40 centimeters – doesn’t mean these magnificent beasts don’t come with an added touch of elegance too!

Whilst all species within African wildlife are stunningly beautiful in their own rights without fail – think twice before crossing Africa’s majestic Buffalo’s path…for you may just miss out on marveling at what nature has provided this lively creature’s looks-wise!


Cape buffalo

The Cape buffalo, also known as the Southern Savanna Buffalo, is one of the most imposing wild animals in Africa. With males reaching up to 2,010 lbs, they are truly gigantic animals with a coat of deepest black, sure to captivate every onlooker’s attention.

Native only to South and East African regions, the Cape Buffalo has rightfully earned its high reputation for ferocity and size. Indeed, it relishes its unrivaled title as an apex predator in many ecosystems across the continent.

Admired for their strength and power yet feared for their aggressive behavior, these powerful mammals have become an integral part of African folklore and culture.

Forest buffalo

The Forest Buffalo is a marvelous creature, clearly distinct from its near relatives.

It stands just over 120 cm tall at the withers and boasts a body coat of deep red with darker patches adorning its head and shoulders, providing it with a unique presence in the wild.

This pint-sized African buffalo uniquely combines traits from both the typical subspecies and the dwarf variant; this fine combination has even caused some researchers to classify the Forest Buffalo as a species unto itself! Hybrids between these two are not unheard of, making them more extraordinary still.

Sudanese buffalo

The Sudanese buffalo is a rare species and an incredible sight to behold! Known for its incredibly small stature, especially by comparison to other subspecies found throughout this region of West Africa.

Bulls of this species typically range from 300 to 600kgs – such size shows the remarkable adaptation of these creatures in their surrounding environment.

Unlike the South African subspecies, which are accustomed to much bigger sizes, lighter weight has allowed the Sudanese buffalo to live comfortably amongst predators like lions and cheetahs in their native habitat.

It’s an extraordinary creature that truly serves as a testament to nature’s astounding capabilities.

Nile buffalo

The majestic Nile buffalo gracefully graces the Central African savannas in all its beautiful glory. Unmistakeably similar to the Cape buffalo, yet somewhat smaller and of a lighter hue, this unique subspecies is a spectacle to behold.

Its distinctiveness is so remarkable it is often included among the Sudanese buffaloes. An impressive breed that never fails to captivate onlookers and create delight wherever they roam.

Mountain buffalo

The Mountain Buffalo is an animal of legend, but one which isn’t known to many outside its native habitat. Living in some of the most pristine mountain areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, it has adapted well to life in these regions, where they dominate the terrain and capture people’s imaginations.

Very much at home in rocky heights, agilely climbing rugged hills and scaling cliffs with ease, if you’re lucky enough to spot one, it’s a sight that won’t soon be forgotten. And as shrouded in mystery as they are, who can say for sure what latent beauty may lay beneath their wonderful exterior?


The African Buffalo is a sight to behold; the land’s most successful grazer. Traversing swamps, floodplains, mopane grasslands, and mountain forests with ease – they need thick cover and a daily source of water to survive.

No challenger can out-munch them as they chew through tall and coarse grasses faster than any other herbivore.

Despite their intimidating size, these mighty creatures are also among the few survivors in Africa due to their ferocious defense capabilities: capable of protecting themselves against even lions!

It usually takes multiple lions to take down an adult buffalo – in some cases, one brave male has been known to do it alone. Most often crocodiles will target old or young calves, but they may still seek out healthy adults too.

Whilst cheetahs, leopards, and spotted hyenas may only take down recently born calves, occasional reports have emerged of hyenas taking down bulls – albeit rarely.

The African Buffalo is surely among Mother Nature’s finest creations – combining power and strength with unrivaled agility and speed.

This majestic species showcases the true power that nature holds when the balance is maintained; an eternal push-and-pull between animal predators and their prey that creates a cycle just as beautiful as its enduring nature.

Social behavior

African buffaloes are true troopers of the savanna. Herds comprise related females and their offspring, forming a linear dominance hierarchy and surrounded by sub-herds containing males, high-ranking animals, and old or invalid members.

During the dry season, the males separate out into bachelor herds. Noted for their altruistic behavior, these beasts engage in what is thought to be ‘voting’ to determine direction before setting off on their sprightly way.

When danger appears, this brave species stands side each defending one another with remarkable speed and cunning. Bull males will spar in playtime or quick dominance interactions while young calves may do so too but only rarely do adult females partake.

In hunting situations, they will regroup protectively around weaker members like the elderly or young ones encircling them with an impenetrable wall of power from any predators seeking an easy meal.

In extreme cases, individual herd members may need rescuing from attack with other buffaloes coming to bravely rally around them to form a unified front – even going as far as attempting to chase lions up trees at times! 


African buffaloes are quite vocal creatures! From low-pitched two to four-second calls intermittently at three to six-second intervals, to gruff, almost grating calls that sound like a creaking gate, these majestic beasts use a variety of sounds to communicate with each other. There’s even a long ‘maaa’ call made when the herd is moving toward the water.

However, their calls can also be quite aggressive – when threatened by predators or confronted by an inferior animal, they emit gruff ‘waaaa’ sounds. They also make croaking noises to call out for their calves and grunt and bellow while grazing in the grassy plains.

It’s amazing how these animals can convey messages through vocalizations – as well as display dominance amongst each other with specific calls.

African Buffaloes are one of nature’s true wonders, reminding us of their subtlety and power!


Buffalo have a unique and intriguing mating approach. Females only mate and give birth during the rainy season, with peaks in both activities taking place in different parts of the season.

To keep their chosen mate secure, young bulls are tasked with an arduous challenge – of keeping other males at bay whilst the cow is particularly evasive.

Cows usually give birth to their first calves at five years old, after a gestation period of almost one year. Newborns are kept hidden away in foliage for several weeks before joining the main herd, whereas older young ones surround themselves with safety in the herd’s center.

A ‘mother and calf’ bond is stronger than that of most bovines, yet when a new baby arrives on the scene, there’s no exception as mothers use their horns to push past babies aside to take care of the newest arrival.

Generally speaking, yearlings remain with their maternal parent for at least another 12 months before siblings separate from each other and join bachelor groups when they reach two years old.

It’s undeniable that buffaloes hold an interesting mating strategy – one that challenges all preconceptions about bovine behavior!

With an intense season devoted to mating rituals followed by deep maternal bonds which last for up to three years, these warm-hearted creatures certainly prove there’s more to them than meets the eye.


African Cape Buffalo are a species that is dear to the hearts of conservationists. This iconic animal has been estimated to have a global population of nearly 900,000 individuals and three-quarters of them are thought to be in protected areas.

In recent years they have suffered severe losses due to disease and human activities such as hunting, but their numbers have been increasing thanks to initiatives such as anti-poaching patrols and community crop damage payouts.

The species have long been considered a prize possession by trophy hunters who will pay an average of $10,000 for the opportunity. While in some areas the buffalo may still be hunted for meat there is no doubt that much of the activity around African buffaloes is spurred by this desire for a high-value ‘trophy’.

It’s here where conservation efforts must focus, not only on the well-being of our wildlife but also on the benefit of local communities too.

Now more than ever we need to resist habitat destruction, curb illegal hunting habits and educate those affected about the importance of this majestic animal both on a local and international level.

With efforts from organizations large and small, Cape Buffalo can continue living safely in their homeland forever.


A giant of the animal world, buffaloes can be dangerous and unpredictable beasts. With an estimated two hundred human lives lost each year to its pointed horns, it has earned the nickname “the Black Death,” or “Widowmaker.”

This is not an animal to be taken lightly. Reports have circulated that they are even more deadly than the Big Five when it comes to casualties, overshadowing even fearsome attackers such as hippos and crocodiles.

Wounded animals have been known to ambush pursuers, showing just how wise one must be while hunting them. As a result, they are a challenge among big game hunters, who must always remember the motto: respect the wild.