Little-Known Facts About the Cape Buffalo

Often touted as the most dangerous of the Big Five, the massive, ill-tempered Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) ranges throughout the savanna regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Though generally a placid grazer, this oxlike bovid displays cunning and savage behavior when injured or threatened. A full-grown bull will easily stand 5 feet at the shoulder, measure 10 feet from nose to rump, and weigh close to 1,600 pounds. --JACK LARSON

[1] Oxpecker: Cape buffalo have a symbiotic relationship with the oxpecker, which feeds on dead skin as well as the fleas and ticks that plague the animals.

[2] Stomach: The four-chambered stomach of the Cape buffalo is best adapted for digesting tough, fibrous grasses, which make up the bulk of its diet on the savannas.

[3] Legs: The Cape buffalo's powerful legs are capable of propelling the animal at a swift 37 miles per hour--faster at full gallop than even a pursuing lion.

[4] Mouth: The prehensile tongue, broad incisors, and enormous molars of the Cape buffalo are especially suitable for grazing on the long, tough grasses of the plains.

[5] Boss: Males can be distinguished by the horny plate, or boss, that protects the fore-head. It begins to develop at around 3 years and becomes more impressive with age.

[6] Hide: The Cape buffalo has a thick, protective skin. When threatened, the animal is capable of plowing through dense, thorny brush impenetrable to its pursuers.