About the Author

Callum Gowar

Field Guide

Growing up in Cape Town, the opposite end of South Africa from its main wildlife areas, didn't slow Callum down when embarking on his ranger training at Londolozi at the start of 2015. He had slowly begun moving north-east through the country anyway, ...

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16 Comments

on Cape Buffalo vs Water Buffalo: The Differences

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odie
Member
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nice info

Dave Mills
Member
Guest

Thanks, Callum. Good information, well-written.

Iglooillusion
Member
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Very interesting, thank.

Edouard Paiva
Member
Guest

Thanks a lot Callum Gowar for the good information.

Judy Guffey
Member
Guest

Welcome back! Good to read this blog from you.

Jill Larone
Member
Guest

Thanks for the interesting facts, Callum. I knew nothing about this fierce animal until I spent a few days at Londolozi, and was surprised when both Mark and Lucky said they would rather take their chances with a Lion over a Cape Buffalo! After being stared down by a few big bulls (while in the Rover), I started to understand why! I love the way the herd protects each other when confronted by predators.

Lucas Buxton
Member
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Very well written. Having spent time around both, the Cape buffalo stands its ground gracefully and with presence. A true spectacle to witness first hand.

Dane
Member
Guest

Thanks that will be so helpful for me and my friends

Dane
Member
Guest

I new water buffalo are stronger

Biswapriya Purkayastha
Member
Guest

You forgot a very simple distinction: Cape buffalo have their horns, which are shorter and not swept back over their shoulders, fused over the forehead in a boss. Water buffalo horns, *as clearly evident in your own photographs*, are not fused over the forehead and are swept back over the shoulders. They’re also usually much longer than Cape buffalo horns.

Andrew
Member
Guest

Cool read thanks! There is close to 400,000 feral water buffalo in the top 1/3 of Australia! They grow like weeds with horns spanning near on 3 meters tip to tip

Vincent Fink
Explorer

thank you for this info. I painted what I thought was a water buffalo cause it was neck deep in water, but I guess it was a cape buffalo. ? Please take a look and let me know: https://www.etsy.com/listing/715504413/water-buffalo-art-print-buffalo

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Vincent,
I had a look and yes, it’s a Cape Buffalo…
Best regards

Rob Barnes
Explorer

Hi Callum, interesting information, but I’m sorry to have to point this out, but I think you have made a mistake and mislabelled the second photo, it isn’t a female water buffalo, it is what I would call a West African savanna buffalo Syncerus caffer brachyceros, that you’ve referred to a Sudanese buffalo, the photo was taken in Pendjari National Park in Benin by Jonas Van de Vroode, I follow him on Flickr, so I thought it might be one of his photos. There is as always some dispute over the number of buffalo subspecies some say three and some five, I’ve not yet seen a West African buffalo myself, on a recent visit to Mole National Park in Ghana, I wasn’t lucky and they proved to be too elusive. I have though seen plenty of Central African savanna buffaloes Syncerus caffer aequinoctialis in Zakouma National Park in Chad, depending on which taxonomy you follow they are either a distinct subspecies or Sudanese savanah buffaloes. I’ve also seen forest buffaloes in Gabon, plenty of Cape buffaloes around Eastern and Southern Africa (although not yet at Londolozi) and some wild water buffaloes in India and Sri Lanka. Good to try and clear up the confusion between Cape buffaloes and water buffaloes, the extent of this confusion has just been illustrated by the tragic case of a farmer in Wales who has just been killed by one of his Mediterranean water buffaloes an Italian dairy breed, prompting news articles illustrated with photos of Cape buffaloes and lots of silly comments about how you shouldn’t try to farm wild animals.

There are actually quite a few domestic water buffaloes in Egypt and Tunisia, but very few South of the Sahara.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Thanks Rob,
We’ll make the changes. And strongly reprimand Callum. haha!

Rob Barnes
Explorer

Great thanks.

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