The Cape Buffalo
The Cape Buffalo is the most dangerous animal of the BIG 5 on the African savannah in Uganda. This giant herbivore gives the appearance of being unassuming, placid, and a rather passive cow-like creature.
It certainly doesn’t have the big cat carnivorous menacing streak that alerts us to danger. Buffalo bulk graze their way through the savannah with ease, with their designated pathfinder leading them to pristine waters for lengthy drinking sessions. They’re just herbivore herds casually hoofing it through the savannah.
Hardly looking like warriors and fearless fighters, buffaloes are often overlooked to find dangerous predators on Uganda safari game drives.
Do not be fooled to think that the buffalo is placid. They play a dangerous game, one that ensured their place in Africa’s big five, a term coined years ago to categorize the most dangerous game to hunt on foot.
Back in the bygone era when hunting the big five was a “thing,” buffalo killed more safari hunters than any other dangerous animal.
When wounded, they become aggressive and angry. Buffalo would seek revenge on the hunter and even remember the encounter the following day. If injured, they would circle their enemy and counter-attack instead of fleeing.
Do not anger a buffalo if you cross their path. They will charge instead of fleeing. A mother protecting her calf can be dangerous, a wounded buffalo can be lethal, and an old bull past its prime is nothing short of insecure and grumpy.
Before a lion charges, they might give a warning roar and will stalk their prey. The pride might begin to circle before the ambush. A mock elephant charges, flay its ears, and make a noise.
Even rhino will indicate charging, with black rhino being particularly territorial and aggressive. With buffalo, they remain statue-like before suddenly charging and trampling everything in its wake. There is simply no indication or behavioral changes before a buffalo charges.
When a cape buffalo charges, it runs at an average of 50 km per hour. They will target you and immediately charge once they’ve locked their eyes upon you. At the last minute, he will drop his head, and by then, it’s too late.
Lone bulls that have been ousted from the herd and no longer have the protection of the herd. They tend to break off from their herds and form tight bachelor groups with other lone bulls. Days are spent wallowing in mud holes and exercising their dominance. They are massive in size and stature and typically have a profoundly etched boss (horns) from many years of sparring and protecting herds.
Beware the buffalo. Especially the old bulls that stay in small groups hovering around waterholes.