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The African buffalo is a heavily-built animal with stocky limbs, a short neck and a large head that is carried low (the top of the head is usually below shoulder height).

Both males and females have large, curved horns. Those of the male are up to 20% longer, and are fused (joined) at the base, forming a bony shield called a ‘boss‘ over the head.


The front of the African buffalo’s body is heavier than the back, and the front hooves are wider than the back hooves to support the extra weight.

The color of the African buffalo varies depending on the subspecies: the savanna-type subspecies (see below) tend to be black or dark brown in color, while the forest-type subspecies is typically red.

The hair of the females and calves of all subspecies is usually more reddish in color than that of the adult males.

The African buffalo is considered one of Africa’s most dangerous animals, and is responsible for over 200 fatal attacks on humans every year. Due to its fierce, unpredictable nature, the African buffalo has never been domesticated.

The horns are used as a means of defense against predators. Males also use their horns when fighting for dominance in the herd.

Average lifespan of the African buffalo is about 20 years in the wild

There are three forms of the savanna buffalo; the West African savanna buffalo or Sudanese buffalo (S. c. brachyceros), the central African savanna buffalo or Nile buffalo (S. c. aequinoctialis) and the southern Savanna buffalo or cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer).

Being large animals they can easily overheat, so they feed mostly during the cool night, and rest during the heat of the day.

They can run at speeds of up to 57 kilometers (35 miles) per hour.

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