About the Author

Rob Jeffery

Field Guide

Rob joined the Londolozi team at the start of 2017. Having grown up on a farm in the Cape and spending many holidays traveling Southern Africa he developed a love for the outdoors and an appreciation for the natural world. After completing a ...

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8 Comments

on Do Buffalo Feel Empathy?

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Ian Hall
Senior Digital Ranger

Interesting thoughts, that veggies and vegans will I am sure have an answer to. How many of us have had a pet that when it sees we are in pain, tries to snuggle up to us and comfort us?

Wendy Hawkins
Senior Digital Ranger

Oh Rob I hope the poor Buff manages to get some water, but fear the worst for him as the Cats will take advantage of his disabled state! Thank you for sharing this informative blog.

Denise Vouri
Master Tracker

I truly believe that animals do feel empathy as I’ve seen it in cats and dogs – no reason that non-domesticated animals should not exhibit those empathetic feelings as well. Great article!

I am sure that buffalo feel empathy for each other. Once we witnessed a hunt in which six lions killed a buffalo baby. The mother and her young one were the very last ones of a big herd. Some of the lions attacked the hind legs of its mother the others killed the baby. The mother roared for help and the whole herd of buffalo returned and drove the lions away. However, the baby was already dead. The lions started to feed as soon as the buffalos had turned away. One old bull, though, returned and stood there watching the lions eat and the expression on his face cannot described in any other way but that of sadness and compassion.

A B
Explorer

Certainly touching to watch these buffaloes surround the injured one. A direct lesson to humanity.

Malavika Gupta
Senior Digital Ranger

Thought provoking article, Rob. I certainly am convinced animals are empathetic towards one another. Sometimes their notoriety, as in the case of Buffalos, may deceive us into thinking they are self centered. But that is not the case. You’ve given prime examples in your piece of animals being empathetic not just towards one another but to members of other species too. I once watched a NatGeo documentary about a leopard who tried to take care of abandoned new born lion cubs, but could not raise them for reasons of her own safety. A few years ago there was a short clip on you tube about a lioness that had adopted an orphaned calf! All animals, humans included, secrete unique chemicals reflective of fear, happiness, anxiety, or sadness. Unfortunately humans rely on visual cues rather than smells to tell an individual’s emotional state. Animals, with their heightened sense of smell are quick to detect these smells and react instinctively, either with empathy, compassion, or aggression.

Callum Evans
Guest contributor

It would make sense that buffalo would experience empathy, especially among the kinship groups within the herd. Very interesting account.

Marinda Drake
Master Tracker

I believe buffalo show empathy the same as elephant do. I can’t say it as a fact but from what I have observed in the bush, they mourn their dead aswell. We saw a buffalo killed by lions. A heard of a few hundred buffalo walked passed and after chasing the lions off, every single one walked up to the dead buffalo and smelled and touched it.

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