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Buffalo Herd

Buffalo (Syncerus caffer – Sparrman, 1779) are one of the species that are referred to as water dependent. They will move to the nearest water to drink in the early morning (below) and again (as shown by the sequence above) in the late afternoon. The photos show buffalo drinking and feeding. Buffalo are predominantly grazers but will browse on shrubs and forbes if grass is in short supply or of poor quality. Being dark in colour buffalo absorb heat and their adaptive mechanisms of resting in the shade during the heat of the day, feeding mostly at night, wallowing in mud (especially older bulls) and drinking regularly help them to regulate body temperature. When subcutaneous skin temperatures approach 40C buffalo will stop feeding and move to cooler areas in the shade (Sinclair 1977). Buffalo can move around in breeding herds, which can number in the hundreds, in bachelor herds consisting of sub-adults, adults and old bulls, or lone bulls (usually old and often cantankerous).

Home ranges of buffalo are determined primarily by food availability and water. Home ranges of neighbouring buffalo herds do not generally overlap but will not be defended as territories if they do. Buffalo will often wade chest deep into water to drink to get to cleaner water (less disturbed) and to cool off. An adult buffalo requires 40 – 60 litres of water per day. Both sexes carry horns – the boss of the bulls being more massive and well developed.