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The Zambian Buffalo - An Example Of Cooperation

Is it that dangerous?


The Zambian Buffalo is cited as the most dangerous of African species of the big game. Of late, it has retreated in many places as a result of hunting, settlements, agriculture and a virus type disease called rinderpest. Its range of habitat spreads throughout Africa, south of the Sahara and it can survive in all kinds of terrain as long as it’s close to water.

By courtesy of The Zambia Tourism Board

The beasts are reputed to be extremely dangerous, charging at the slightest provocation. It has been reported that they have killed or injured more men and lions than any other grass eating animal.

Despite its reputation of being dangerous, the Zambia Buffalo is tranquil by nature. It does not feed on animal or human meat but on grass.

Usually found in large numbers in the Kafue and South Luangwa game parks of Zambia they are known to move in a herd of 400, or even up to thousands. But there are smaller bachelor herds which live alone and they do not associate with the larger herds.

Survival

During the dry season, they are the preferred prey of Lions. When they are attacked, cooperation comes into play. The adults surround the young ones and face outward making it difficult for predators to attack. It’s unusual for herbivores to protect themselves in such a cooperative manner. Through this defense mechanism, predators do not have a major impact on herds.

The cooperation is evident even when there is no danger. For example, when the herd is faced with the challenge of crossing another bull’s territory, the owner of the territory will escort them to the other end of his territory.

Indeed, studies have indicated that these animals graze together and lie together in unison.

A loner?

Males lead a solitary life because their huge body weight cannot allow them to be moving with the herd frequently in search of food and water. It is the old solitary living males that are most likely to be taken by lions.

Facts and Figures

An adult animal grows up to 1.7 meters at the shoulder.

Horns are massive at the base, forming a helmet cover over the fore head and reaching a length of about 1 meter.

There are two types found in Africa; the Cape buffalo (the one found in Zambia) and the dwarf forest buffalo found in the rain forest.

The fully grown Zambian Buffalo weighs almost a tone.




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