BLACK BUFFALO

compiled by Dee Finney

 Cape Buffalo of Southern Africa

Black Buffalo Hide Jacket sold in Europe for $240 Euro.

1-18-08 - NAP DREAM - I was in my house. It was late afternoon and a game show was on.  The woman looked real familiar and I realized it was the mother of one of the kids who lived across the alley.

Just then, that kid walked in with my cousin and they were holding hands.  The two boys then sat on the porch together holding hands like two sweethearts would do.

I went to the telephone to call my friend Kimber and tell her about this and I got her answering machine with a male voice telling me she was taking a nap.

I was disappointed but just then the mother of the boy came up to the door and I was all excited to find out if she knew about her son.

So I sort of slyly asked her if she knew about her son and my cousin and she said, "Yes!".  They had told her.

Just as she said that, I saw two of my male relatives come up to the door, one was dressed like an Indian, riding astride a black buffalo.

I cried out to the woman, "Oh no! I'm outta here.  We already have a camel in here.!"

I ran into the other room and grabbed a black winter coat off the doorknob and I was just going to out the other door, when I spotted the cutest little baby black buffalo, all soft and fuzzy - just like the lining of my coat, and his mother black buffalo who looked just like him, black and soft and furry - not like the mangy brown buffalo you see at the zoo. They were in the dining room.

I was stunned to see how cute the little buffalo was and it stopped me in my tracks for just a moment - long enough for some men who were trailing behind them to call out to me.

The first man was wearing a jacket just like mine, and he smiled and did  a little dance move towards me and smiled.

The a tall black man, dressed like a cop, wearing a heavy winter blue uniform coat said to me, "Maam!  Out of 145 invited guests, you are number ...", and he held out the ticket to me with his index finger over the last number so I couldn't see it.

The scene stopped dead still so I could guess what number I was - I wanted to say I was 143, but I know I was 145 and I'd have to participate.

 
Cape Buffalo

Syncerus caffer - Family: Bovidae

The Cape buffalo is a fierce, highly aggressive animal, unlike its domesticated Indian relative. The big black Cape buffalo's habitat extends over eastern and southern Africa, while the smaller red forest buffalo is found in central and western Africa. The Knowsley buffalo originated from the plains of western Uganda, today the only collection of Cape buffalo is in the UK.

Manufacturers make many items from black buffalo hide, jackets, coats, chaps, jewelry, bicycle and motorcycle seat covers, shoes, boots, ties, book covers, carrying cases, handbags, wallets, wrist watch bands, and the bone and horn are made into jewelry items, and other things.

It is not cheap to go on a buffalo hunt:

The following trophies can be taken:
 
Buffalo US$ 2,800
Reedbuck US$ 860
Bushbuck US$ 1,050
Warthog US$ 420
Bushpig US$ 500
Red Duiker US$ 910
Blue Duiker US$ 1,480
Grey Duiker US$ 620
Suni US$ 1,460
Orbi US$ 830

Extra Fees:

Dipping and Packing US$ 600
Firearm Import License (per rifle) US$ 160
Hunting License US$ 250
Charter out of Johannesburg Intl. Airport US$ 2,800 per party
Visas and Airport Tax US$ 120

All prices include government fees.

Other animals hunted:

Trophy Fees:
 
Buffalo US$ 2,800
Lion US$ On Request
Leopard US$ 3,750
Hippo US$ 2,900
Crocodile US$ 2,350
Sable US$ 4,000
Waterbuck US$ 2,000
Lichtenstns. Hartebeest US$ 2,850
Reedbuck US$ 860
Waterbuck US$ 2,300
Oribi US$ 830
Red Duiker US$ 910
Grey Duiker US$ 620
Blue Duiker US$ 1,480
Suni US$ 1,460
Nyala US$ 2,500
Warthog US$ 420
Bushpig US$ 500
Livingstone Eland US$ 2,900
Bushbuck US$ 1,050
Baboon US$ 145
Oribi US$ 830
Lion US$ On Request
Elephant US$ On Request
Crocodile US$ 2,350
Waterbuck US$ 2,300

All prices include government fees.

Extra Fees:

Dipping and Packing US$ 600
Firearm Import License (per rifle) US$ 160
Hunting License US$ 250
Charter out of Johannesburg Intl. Airport US$ 3,250 per party
Visas and Airport Tax US$ 120
 

 

The term buffalo must not be confused with the colloquial use of the term in other parts of the world. American bison are frequently and incorrectly referred to as buffalo. The African species is not closely related to either the North American bison or the Asian water buffalo. Africa actually has two forms of buffalo: a small version endemic to West African forest known as the Red Buffalo (a subspecies very little is known about) and the savanna species, also called the black buffalo or the Cape Buffalo.

Our current understanding of the subject reflects that bovines evolved in Asia around 7 million years ago, which makes them the most recent of the advanced ruminants. From this region they radiated widely throughout tropical and subtropical Asia, probably crossing an ancient land bridge into what is today North America. It is not known how these animals were able to radiate as far south into Africa as they have.

Classification

Kingdom

Animalia

Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Artiodactyla
Family Bovidae
Tribe Bovini
Genus Syncerus
Species caffer

Common Name

English
 

Cape Buffalo / African buffalo / Black buffalo

German

Afrikanischer Buffel

French

Buffle d' Afrique

Afrikaans

Buffel

Zulu

Nyathi

Swahili Nyari

Description
While not closely related, buffalo look remarkably similar to domestic cattle but are generally black in colour. They may grow to massive size with recorded weights reaching 870 Kgs (1910lbs.). A buffalo's most distinctive feature is its horns. These are present in both males and females. The horns arise from a large structure on top of their heads called a 'boss'. This structure is actually made up of two 'boss halves'.

The horns are bilaterally symmetrical and grow outward from the centre of the boss, eventually curving upward and back inward in a gentle arc. Females have the same shape but are generally lighter in build. In males the boss halves grow together forming a 'shield' in front and above its eyes. This is the part that makes contact when two males butt each other. The greatest recorded length for buffalo horns was 1.295m (4.27ft) measured over the outside curve from the centre of the boss to the tip of the horn.

Statistics
Length - MALE 2.5m (8.3ft) FEMALE 2.36m (7.8ft)
Shoulder Height - MALE 1.6m (5.3ft) FEMALE1.5m (5ft)
Weight MALE 680Kg (1500lbs.) FEMALE 600Kg (1320lbs.)
Gestation period : 330 days
Food preference : Grazer
Maximum speed : 56kph (35mph)
Social grouping : Large herds
Longevity : 20 - 25 years
 

Food and Eating
Buffalo are bulk grazers and will eat a wide variety of grass types. These include the longer dry grasses, which they seem to prefer to new growth shoots. By eating the longer grass buffalo play a very important role in the grazing succession ecology of a region. By selecting this type of grass they effectively open up that portion of grassland to other species who can only, or prefer to, eat shorter grass.

Buffalo will range over a very wide area in search of the plentiful food supply that is necessary to satisfy the needs of these large herds. Recorded movements have shown these animals to walk up to 17 Km (10.5 miles) a day. These treks often take them a fair distance from water, a substance that they are dependant upon daily.

Buffalo will drink (when possible) directly after feeding in the morning and again before feeding in the afternoon. Their water intake averages between 60 and 80 litres (16 - 21 gallons) per day. The males often indulge in mud wallowing when near water, particularly during the hotter parts of the day. As well as a (minimal) cooling effect, this also protects the animals against biting flies, and helps in reducing their external parasite (ticks) load. Since females almost never engage in this activity it is assumed that wallowing may also serve an additional function, probably social in nature.

Buffalo prefer not to graze during the heat of the day (being quite sensitive to heat); most foraging occurs in the early morning, late afternoon and at night. During the midday heat these large ruminants will lie up in deep bush or in the shade of trees to ruminate. In addition to grazing and drinking, buffalo also exhibit other common practices in order to obtain their mineral requirements. These include using salt licks (if available), licking termite mounds and licking the mud that has adhered to their companions. Although they are able to consume a large amount of grass, it is not nutrient rich. Therefore 20 out of 24 hours a day are spent grazing or ruminating.

Social Behaviour
These gregarious herbivores gather into herds that may range from a few individuals to over 3000 animals - a sight certainly worth seeing. Common herds are a mixed group of males and females of all ages, from new calves to old bulls. Smaller bachelor herds form frequently and solitary old bulls are also found. Within each of these herds there is a strict hierarchy based on fighting ability which obviously relates to the size of the animal. Female rank is determined by reproductive status, with mothers of young calves being afforded the highest rank.

Within large herd structures, rank is very important as it determines the position in the herd where the animal can stay. Those of higher rank tend to be in the front and centre of the herd. This affords them better grazing and maximum protection from predators. Conversely those of low rank travel and feed at the back of the herd, and have to be content with graze that had been rejected by those up front. These animals are the most prone to predation and are frequently culled from the back of the herd by lion. As herds get larger the hierarchy becomes less well defined; the stronger individuals meet less often, if at all, in the milling community of thousands of animals.

The herd unit is structured differently depending on the season. During the wet season the large herds fragment into smaller units as water and grazing becomes more plentiful. In a similar vein, bachelor herds of 10 - 30 animals get to exploit smaller ecological niches as they do not need to find large areas of grazing land and water to satisfy the needs of many animals. Movement of the herd is determined by those in the front quarter, i.e. those with high rank.

Typically a herd will move between established grazing and water and the total distance (although dependant on habitat) tends to average out at only 6 Km (3.7 miles). These travels occur within reasonably defined but not defended home ranges. Again the home range is completely dependant on habitat and may differ between 60 and 250 Km2 (23 - 100 miles2 ).To emphasise the much smaller niche required by smaller herds, one bachelor group of 10-15 animals was able to establish a home range of only 3 Km2 (1.1 mi2).

A frequent observation by anybody who has ever seen lion attacking buffalo is that if the buffalo all turned and ran at the lion, the predator would turn and flee. Although this scenario is not often played out, a number of these incidences have been documented. In one particular case a whole pride of lions were 'treed' (chased into a tree and kept there) by a herd of buffalo after the pride had killed one of the herd.

Breeding
As is common with many mammals, calving coincides with the optimal period of grass growth in December through to February. Since buffalo have an 11.5 month gestation period, most mating occurs in January through to March of the previous year.

After her 330 day gestation she will produce a single calf weighing in at 30 - 50 Kg (66-110 lbs.). New-born calves can stand and suckle within ten minutes, but it takes several weeks before they are able to follow the herd properly. Calves will continue to suckle for up to 15 months or until the mother produces another calf. The calf remains close by her at all times for at least two years.

Female calves always retain a strong social bond to their mothers but the males quickly disperse into the main body of the herd. Even under optimum conditions only 30 - 45% of calves will reach the relative maturity of 2 years old. While still young they are susceptible to predation by lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and spotted hyaena. The adult buffalo can generally fight off all but the lions.

Disease
The viral disease of cattle, pigs and buffalo, Rinderpest, was introduced to Africa twice, both times by the Italian military from the Middle East. The first outbreak in 1884 was stopped in the Sudan. The second outbreak in 1889 started in Ethiopia and cases were reported in Southern Africa 7 years later, probably due to ox-wagon transports. The disease ranks among the worst pandemics to strike African game in the past two millennia. It is highly contagious, spreading by aerial and fluid transmission. Its mortality (kill rate) is 100%. Estimates say that only 1 out of every 10 000 animals infected, survived.

In an attempt to halt the spread, a 1000 Km (620 mile) veterinary fence was erected across the whole of South Africa, but to no avail. It came down the west coast into the Cape and then up along the south and east coasts, affecting the whole country. Of the half a million buffalo in Southern Africa all but 50 died. Along with the buffalo more than 95% of the cattle on the whole continent also succumbed to the disease. The only real benefit was that the lack of buffalo and cattle led to the demise of tsetse fly. Rinderpest does not affect humans. Rinderpest is a disease of the past, but others have taken its place. Much of our current population are carriers of foot and mouth disease.

This does not kill the animals, but can cause them to lose condition. More serious is that buffalo can transmit it to domestic cattle, who are very susceptible and do die from it. It is for this reason that there is supposed to be strict control that does not allow domestic animals to get within 10 Km (6 miles) of game reserves. In the majority of regions veterinary cordon fences are in place, but control is sorely lacking. The good news, however, is that populations of disease free buffalo have survived and are thriving. Thus the price distinction between diseased and disease-free buffalo was made. The transport of buffalo is very strictly controlled and new reserves outside of foot and mouth endemic areas may only purchase and transport disease-free animals. A whole module on wildlife health and diseases is available at the Wildlife Management Course.

(Source: www.wildlifecampus.co.za)
 

I wasn't sure where to post this news,  but this seemed to be an appropriate place:


Park bison capture total nears 700

BILLINGS, Mont. -- More than 100 bison were captured for slaughter Thursday as they left Yellowstone National Park, bringing the total captured this winter to 661 under a program to keep the wild animals away from cattle.

The Montana livestock industry and government agencies say the bison could transmit a disease that causes some pregnant livestock to abort their calves.

With heavy snowfall in Yellowstone this winter, bison have been moving to lower elevations outside the park in search of food.

Almost all the animals captured this winter have come from the park's northern herd, including the 114 rounded up Thursday near the town of Gardiner. The herd is one of two in Yellowstone and had roughly 1,500 animals at the start of winter, said Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash.

Another 30 bison have been captured on the west side of the park, with more captures planned in coming days. State Department of Livestock officials have said they will run a more aggressive capture program in that area this year.

Last spring, 300 bison, including 100 newly born calves, were still outside Yellowstone's western boundary when ranchers were due to bring cattle into the area. The possible slaughter of the bison calves sparked a public outcry.

All the animals ultimately were hazed back into the park instead, under a deal worked out between state and park officials.

Christian Mackay with the Montana Department of Livestock said his agency wants to prevent a repeat of those events. "We want to be ahead of the curve this year," he said.

There have been no recorded bison-to-cattle transmissions of brucellosis, the disease that spurred the capture program. An outbreak on a cattle ranch near Bridger last year was blamed on transmission from elk, although government officials say the elk could have gotten it from bison.

The disease was introduced to Yellowstone wildlife by livestock brought in by European settlers. It has since been eradicated outside the park.

 

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