cattle-like ungulates have massive low sweeping horns and move in small to very large
herds, often over 400 strong, especially in the
and South Luangwa National Parks. There
smaller bachelor herds of four to five. Occasionally solitary ones known as
kakuli live alone and do not associate with the larger breeding herds. During
the dry season they are the preferred prey of lion. They can sometimes be seen wallowing
in mud pools which is essentially a cleansing technique that rids them of skin parasites
and provides them with a caked mud barrier against further insect attacks.
If attacked, the adults in the herd form a
circle around the young and face outward. By lowering their heads and
presenting a solid barrier of sharp horns, it is difficult for predators
to seize a calf. This effective group defense even allows blind and
crippled members of the herd to survive. Thus predators do not have a
major impact on buffalo herds; it is the old, solitary-living males that
are most likely to be taken by lions.
the national parks in East Africa, buffaloes frequently come into conflict
with human interests. They break fences and raid cultivated crops and may
spread bovine diseases to domestic stock. They are still numerous in many
parts of East Africa, even though they have been periodically devastated
by the rinderpest virus. In other areas of Africa, buffaloes have been
eliminated or their numbers greatly reduced.
Sight and hearing are both
rather poor, but scent is well developed in buffaloes. Although quiet for
the most part, the animals do communicate. In mating seasons they grunt and
emit hoarse bellows. A calf in danger will bellow mournfully, bringing herd
members running at a gallop to defend it.