The Cape Buffalo is often the member of the Big Five that does not get as much attention as the elephant, the lion or the rhino. But these animals are not to be underestimated, they are the strong silent hunters of southern Africa.

Here are a few things you might not have known about the Cape Buffalo:

1. Strong Swimmers

Despite being big, bulky animals, the buffalo is not deterred by water. They often swim through water in order to get to better grazing spots. On hot days, they’re also prone to submerging themselves in water to cool down.

2. Bird Friends

The Cape Buffalo have a symbiotic relationship with the Oxpecker birds. The Oxpeckers sit on the buffalo eating any ticks or insects. They also warn the buffalo if danger is nearby.

3. Bosses

A buffalo’s horns grow from a helmet-like structure on its head. This is known as the boss and is in fact made from bone. When buffalos are young, the boss is still soft. It hardens as the buffalo grows older.

4. Lions

Lions often attempt to hunt the buffalo. However, they aren’t easy prey – when under attack, buffalos don’t run away but rather group together to protect their young and each other. Bulls often injure or kill lions when defending their herd.

5. Social Butterflies

The Cape Buffalo are very social animals. They usually live in big herds, with there being records of herds up to 500 in South Africa. In other parts of Africa, there have been records of herds with more than a 1000 buffalo.

Lalibela’s Buffaloes

In search of more reading? Here’s another member of the Big Five – The Lion!