The Big 5: Cape Buffalo

When you start researching your African Safari, the term “Big 5″ often comes up. The term Big 5 was coined by big-game hunters and quickly became known as the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot, and the name stuck – although now ‘shooting’ is done through a camera lens. So the Big 5 are not called the Big 5 because of their size! The Big 5 are five of Africa’s greatest wild animals – lion, leopard, elephant, Cape buffalo and rhino.

As during the bygone hunting era the term “Big Five” still conjures up the romance and excitement of Africa’s exotic destinations and experiences. Images will begin playing in your mind: lions roaring; elephants trumpeting; buffaloes lurking in long grass; rhinos standing stately under a thorn tree; leopards prowling in the gathering darkness.

Many travellers regard a visit to Africa as incomplete without having spotted, and perhaps photographed, the Big Five – legends of the wilderness which have become synonymous with Africa. According to Wikipedia, Countries where all the members of the big five can be found include Botswana, Zambia, Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Malawi.

Richard has compiled a list of facts about each of the Big 5 that he personally found fascinating whilst on safari in Africa.  In this post Richard shares his favorite fast facts about the Cape Buffalo which is also known as the African Buffalo. Don’t be fooled by the docile appearance of the Cape buffalo – this mean, moody and magnificent animal is possibly the most dangerous of the Big Five, especially if you are on foot.

  • Cape Buffalo are capable hunters and often cross deep water in search of better grazing.
  • The hide on a Cape Buffalo’s neck is as much as 2 inches thick in places, which protects it during battles with other males for dominance.


  • Cape Buffalo have been to known to kill lions and can seek out and kill lion cubs – preventative punishment.
  • Male Cape Buffalo can reach a weight of 2,000 lbs.
  • On the open savannah Cape Buffalo herds can reach up to 2,000 individuals.
  • The Cape Buffalo is considered the most dangerous animal to hunt in Africa.
  • The nickname for an old Cape Buffalo bull is a “dagga boy”. Dagga is the mixture of sand, water and cement used in building in rural Africa. Cape Buffalo like to wallow in the mud to cool down and rid themselves of ticks. The dried mud on their skin looks like dagga.
  • Cape Buffalo can run up to 35 mph, a speed no human can outrun over a long period of time.
  • Horns of a male Cape Buffalo can reach over 60 inches in length.
  • Oxpecker birds can often be seen on the backs and sides and even in the ears of Cape Buffalo. These oxpeckers eat ticks off the Buffalo hide as well as sound alert calls when danger is present.

Richard has more than 12 years of personal travel in Africa, in addition to guiding and planning trips and itineraries for his clients. He has seen and experienced most of Southern and East Africa and is continuously staying up to date and researching the latest news, lodges, accommodation and travel logistics. If you need advice or a chat….. just ASK RICHARD!

The video below is one of the most famous eyewitness video’s ever captured, featuring African wildlife.  Known as “Battle of the Kruger” – this shows a battle between a pride of lions, a herd of buffalo and 2 crocodiles at a watering hole in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Africa… In Your Wildest Dreams.

Southern Sky Adventures
Specializing in guided and self-drive trips through Southern and East Africa & the Indian Ocean Islands
721 Woodward Way, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327 USA
404.300.9630 office – 770.324.0068 cell
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All images ©Richard Pace -taken personally in Africa on safari