|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|What do you do if you are a buffalo on a hot summers day in Kruger National Park? Well, you find yourself a nice waterhole and just relax! I took this photo on a visit to Kruger Park, the red-billed oxpecker on his back was an unexpected bonus!|
The African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large African bovine. It is not closely related to the slightly larger wild Asian water buffalo, but its ancestry remains unclear. Owing to its unpredictable nature which makes it highly dangerous to humans, it has not been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the domestic Asian water buffalo.
The left one is female, the right one male.The African buffalo is a very robust species. It is up to 1.7 metres high, 3.4 meters long. Savannah type buffaloes weigh 500–900 kg, with males, normally larger than females, reaching the upper weight range. Forest type buffaloes are only half that size. Savannah type buffalo have black or dark brown coats and their horns are curved to a closed crescent. Forest type buffalo are reddish brown in color with horns that curve out backwards and upwards. Calves of both types have red coats.
The African buffalo is one of the most successful grazers in Africa. It lives in swamps, floodplains as well as mopane grasslands and forests of the major mountains of Africa. Buffalo prefer habitat with dense cover such as reeds and thickets. Herds have also been found in open woodland and grassland. While not particularly demanding with regard to habitat, they require water daily and therefore depend on perennial sources of water.
Like the Plains zebra, the buffalo can subsist on tall, coarse grasses. Herds of buffalo will reduce grass level to the height that is preferred by selective grazers. When feeding, the buffalo makes use of its tongue and wide incisor row to eat grass more quickly than most other African herbivores. Buffalo do not stay on trampled or depleted areas for long.
Other than humans, African buffalo have few predators and are capable of defending themselves against (and sometimes killing) lions. Lions do kill and eat buffalo regularly, but it typically takes multiple lions to bring down a single adult buffalo. The Nile crocodile will typically attack only old solitary animals and young calves. The cheetah, leopard and spotted hyena are a threat only to newborn calves, though spotted hyenas have been recorded to kill full grown bulls on occasion.
Herd size is highly variable. The basic herds consist of related females, and their offspring, in an almost linear dominance hierarchy. The basic herds are surrounded by sub-herds of bachelor males, high-ranking males and females, and old or invalid animals. The young males keep their distance from the dominant bull, who is recognizable by the thickness of his horns.
Adult bulls will spar in play, dominance interactions or actual fights. A bull will approach another lowing with his horns down and wait for the other bull to do the same thing. When sparring the bulls twist their horns from side to side. If the sparring is for play the bulls may rub each other's faces and bodies during the sparring session. Actual fights are violent but rare and brief. Calves may also spar in play but adult females rarely spar at all.
When chased by predators a herd will stick close together and make it hard for the predators to pick off one member. Calves are gathered in the middle. Buffalo will try to rescue a member that has been caught. A calf's distress call will get the attention of not only the mother but also the herd. Buffalo will engage in mobbing behavior when fighting off predators. They have been recorded treeing lions for two hours, after the lions have killed a member of their group. Lion cubs can get trampled and killed. In one videotaped instance, a calf survived an attack by both lions and a crocodile after intervention of the herd.
Cape buffalo and her calfBuffalo mate and give birth strictly during the rainy seasons. Birth peak takes place early in the season while mating peaks later. A bull will closely guard a cow that comes into heat, while keeping other bulls at bay. This is difficult as cows are quite evasive and attract many males to the scene. By the time a cow is in full estrous only the most dominant bull in the herd/subherd is there.
Cows first calve at five years of age, after a gestation period of 11.5 months. Newly born calves remain hidden in vegetation for the first few weeks while being nursed occasionally by the mother before joining the main herd. Calves are held in the centre of the herd for safety. The maternal bond between mother and calf lasts longer than in most bovids. However when a new calf is born the bonding ends and the mother will keep her previous offspring out of the way with horn jabs. Nevertheless the yearling will still tag along for another year or so. Males leave their mothers when they are two years old and join the bachelor groups.
rommel, mwmod99, Pitoncle has marked this note useful
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- [2010-10-27 3:41]
Nicely composed and the eye contact a bonus [ well timed].The buffalo looks so placid and layed back, looks can be deceiving.Nice photo.
Indeed a very nice shot of the Buffalo. It looks just a tad over exposed which can easily be corrected in Photoshop.
The pose,stare and composition works very well.
Great photo of this Buffalo cooling down - at midday in December - when probably you could have done with a cooling bath as well :-))
He looks quite bad tempered!! As you say in your notes, the Oxpecker is a welcome bonus, adding interest as well as a spot of colour.
I like your photo very much - however I agree with Frans - a little correction to the exposure would make it even better!!
I guess the reflection of the water in the midday sun / dark mass of buffalo upset your calculation of exposure.
Your interesting notes (left female right male ??) impress on the reader, how dangerous Buffaloes are!
Have a nice day
Warm Greetings from Tzaneen
good shot nice POV good timing
Great shot of this monster Peter! I have always dreamed to capture that magnificent animal! The posture of the Buffalo is impressive! The image however looks quite overexposed and if you forgive me I also did some adjustments in Photoshop! Please, let me know if you like the difference!
Très belle scène de la vie sauvage, avec une superbe attitude du sujet, restituée avec beaucoup de réalisme.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.