IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Biology

The African buffalo is a gregarious animal, the savanna subspecies forming large, imposing herds consisting of over one thousand individuals (3). The forest buffalo, due to its more restricted habitat, forms small groups of up to 12 animals, consisting of related females and their offspring and one or more males (2). Males not belonging to a herd are solitary, or form bachelor herds (2). Living in a herd has its advantages; information can be shared regarding the best places to feed, and it offers increased protection against predators (6). Bonds between females in a herd are strong (2), and if one is attacked by a predator such as a lion, the rest of the herd will respond to its bellowing distress calls and rush to its defence. A herd of buffalo are easily capable of driving away a whole pride of lions to protect a herd member (5). Living in large herds is not as important for the forest buffalo as they live in a habitat that does not suit carnivores, such as the lion, and they can easily retreat into cover if required (2). African buffalos spend most of their day lying in the shade to escape the heat. They can often be found drinking water in the early morning and late afternoon, and most feeding takes place during the cooler night (3). The African buffalo grazes extensively on fresh grass, turning only to herbs, shrubs and trees when there is a deficiency of grass (5). Their dietary habits are responsible for opening up areas of long grassland for other species with more selective feeding habits, and thus they play an important ecological role in the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa (5). March to May is the primary period of mating in the African buffalo, resulting in a pregnancy of about 11 months (2), with calves born from January to April (5). The bond between the mother and calf is very strong (2), and within just a few hours, the newborn calf is capable of keeping up with its herd (3). African buffalo are known to live for 26 years (2).

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