Setswana Name: 
Scientific Name: 
Syncerus caffer

Shoulder height: 1,4m; tail 70cm;mass 550kg (Cow), 700kg (Bull)

Average horn length: 100cm along curve from center of boss to tip

Record horn length: for Southern Africa (Zimbabwe) 124,8cm

Identification pointers: Cattle-like appearance: large size; uniform dark- brown or black colouring; heavily built; characteristically massive horns


Buffaloes are heavily built animals with stocky legs, large hoofs with the hind hooves being smaller than the fore-hooves. Adult bull buffaloes are commonly dark brown to black in colour, but the cows are relatively lighter than their male counterparts; the newborn buffaloes are reddish brown in colour.

The characteristic buffalo horns are heavy with a central horn base or ‘boss’ which is particularly well developed in the bulls.  The shape of the buffalo horn can be described as forming an exaggerated ‘w’ shape. Female buffalo horns (cows) are less pronounced and are only found in adults.
The ears of a buffalo hang below the horns and its tail’s end has a tuft of long black or brown hair.


Buffalo live in areas where there is abundance of grass, water and shade. They can most popularly be found in areas of open woodland and savannah. The buffalo are widely distributed in the northern parts of Botswana, occurring throughout the Okavango and Chobe to the northern Makgadikgadi.


Buffalo are very social animals which live in herds which can even number in the thousands; however smaller groups may break away from a larger herd only to join later. Bachelor buffalo form groups separate from a main herd, whilst solitary bulls can be seen roaming. Buffalo socialize in herds with bulls which maintain a dominance hierarchy, and the cows establish a ‘pecking order’ amongst themselves: The dominant male mates with cows which are ready to breed.

Buffalo will go to water holes in the early morning and seek out shade during the heat of the day; interestingly, most feeding takes place at night for buffalo.


Buffalo are herbivores which graze and browse for their food.


Buffalo are seasonal breeders with a majority of calves born in the rainy season and summer season. The gestation period of a buffalo is 340 days, and a new born calf can weigh an average of 40kg.