Those of you who follow our virtual safaris might have seen one of our recent stories documenting a couple of hours at waterhole, in which a large herd of buffalos as well as assorted other herbivores came down to drink in the late morning.
The culmination of the sighting was a big buffalo bull wandering past with a snapped horn, sustained in a fight with another bull.
Whilst sitting with the bulk of the herd at the water itself, the sound of clashing horns was very evident from a couple of hundred metres away, and the dust was visible where two bulls were clearly fighting it out. The noise died down quite quickly though, else we would probably have driven over to investigate.
Fast forward a few minutes, and a solitary bul lcame walking past the Land Rover. We could clearly see blood on his neck and boss (the part where the horns join in the middle of his head), but it was only when zooming in with a telephoto lens that we saw the real situation:
His left horn had been snapped clean off, and a jet of blood was spraying in a continuous stream for well over a foot. The photo above doesn’t actually do justice to how powerful a jet of blood it was; he was moving his head here so the stream is broken into droplets, but for the most part it was unbroken. It was amazing to me just how much blood there actually IS in a buffalo’s horns, but I suppose its not surprising as it is live bone in the core, which has to be maintained by a healthy blood supply.
I have seen a number of violent buffalo clashes before, and many buffalo bulls with stumps where their horns would have been, but this was the first time I have seen the immediate aftermath of a snapped horn.
The good news for the bull is that although his chances of securing mating rights might have taken a knock, the wound is very unlikely to prove fatal. The horn will almost certainly form a smooth stump, and apart from a slightly lopsided appearance, he’ll be none the worse for wear, although his ear on the same side looked like it had taken rather a hammering too.
This particular herd has been fairly localised in their movements of late, but I haven’t been down to look for them since this incident. Next time I go I’ll be sure to look for this particular male as it’ll be fascinating to record the rate at which his stump heals over.