Different kinds of Central African Savanna Buffalo
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07-08-2009, 12:03 PM #1
Different kinds of Central African Savanna Buffalo
In the tracks of the Central African Savanna Buffalo
I don't think I've ever heard a hunter say he doesn't like buffalo hunting. And for sure; There's something special about it!
It's often the first real big game that first time Africa hunters go after. Many of those hunters get really hooked on it; the adrenalin and intensity in buffalo hunting is often the reason.
As many of you know there are several subspecies of buffalo in Africa, among which the Cape buffalo is probably the most well known. I'm not going to sort all the classifications out, but concentrate on the very interesting subspecies called Central African Savanna Buffalo. (SCI classification)
The two subspecies in CAR
Within CAR there are two main types of buffalo; the dwarf buffalo (S. caffer nanus) living in the dense rain forest in the southern part of the country, and the Central African savanna buffalo referred to as (S. caffer aequinoctialis), living in a mixed biotop of savanna and rain forest in the rest of the country.
Young forest buffalo. Typical red color, back sweep and no spread.
A Central African Savanna buffalo as most people would describe it, nice back sweep but still with a good spread and black-reddish color.
An interesting mix
So what's so interesting about the Central African Savanna Buffalo then? Well the interesting thing is that it's actually a mix of all types of buffalos; Dwarf buffalo, Nile Buffalo, Western Buffalo and in eastern CAR there even seem to be Cape buffalo genes in the herds. All these subspecies meet and mix in Central African Republic, and a hunter going there for buffalo hunting might therefore come home with a very interesting set of buffalo trophies to put in the trophy room.
In the same herd of buffalos you can find small or big reddish bulls with back sweeping horns and also big black or red ones with a good spread on the horns. In eastern CAR there are also bulls with a very deep curl which reminds very much of the Cape buffalo. The color doesn't seem to have any connection with horn or body size, the mix between the different types seems to be totally random.
They all seem to have adapted to the same type of habitat. One would be tempted to believe that the smaller red ones would prefer denser cover, since they must have more dwarf buffalo genes in them, but this doesn't seem to be the case. They thrive even in the more open areas.
And on the other hand the bigger buffalos with a wider spread on the horns don't seem to mind wandering around in the thick rain forest galleries (called "Bako") that are common throughout Central African Republic.
So let's have a look at these mixes between the different types of buffalos. The following buffalos were all shot in the same hunting area (CAWA Safari concession) this year 2009, in Central African Republic, not far from each other. The biotop is the same over the whole area; a mix of dry bush savanna and tree savanna intersected with small rain forest galleries around the water streams (Bakos).
This shows very old and big-bodied red bulls. They both had a very nice and wide spread and massive bosses.
This shows a very old small-bodied red bull. Horns had no spread but a nice back sweep. Note the light color and the long tufts on the ears, typical for dwarf buffalos.
This photo shows a very big black bull with an exceptional spread. This particular one was No 5 SCI.
These two old bulls have all the features of a dwarf buffalo, (small body, no spread, nice back sweep etc.), but with the color of a savanna buffalo.
This bull has a clear Cape buffalo-look. Deep curls and massive bosses and nearly no back sweep, but with the body size of a dwarf buffalo.
Classification for mesuring and trophybook registration
When it comes to classification of these buffalos, things can get quite tricky. Should some of these buffalos be considered as Dwarf buffalos or just as small Savanna Buffalos? When it comes to record book registration and measuring, buffalos are mostly classified after the geographical area where they were shot, which in this case mean that they belong to the Central African Savanna Buffalo subspecies. But this method is not always reliable, especially not in these cases where subspecies mix together. It's often up to the measurer and the hunter to determine.
Well, for sure is that in most cases the hunter can go home with a very interesting set of trophies. The possibility of getting both a red and a black buffalo in the same safari is quite unique for Central African Republic. But which one is the most beautiful? Well that's definitely in the eye of the beholder!
I hope to see you there next time, in the tracks of the Central African Buffalo.
//Do not hesitate to give me feedback on the article//
Thanks Anton for this great post. I am hungry to learn as much as I can about hunting in Africa, I seriously can't get enough... it's become kind of an obsession! Anyway, your post was just excellent with all of the pictures, it makes me want to visit CAR. I went to look at your photo gallery and it knocked my socks off! Wow, CAR is amazing, who knew??? Definitely need to learn moe about this country. Look forward to reading more from you!
07-09-2009, 03:47 AM #3
Very informative. I love the coloration on the big red bull with the double rifle laying across him. What a beautiful trophy mount he will make.
Do these buff have the same nasty attitude as the Cape?I have walked in the tracks of the elephant, heard the lion roar and met the buffalo on his terms. I shall never be the same.
07-09-2009, 10:25 AM #4
Very informative post..I might add the little Forest Dwarf Buffalo is probably the most aggressive of the Buffalo species IMO..It is not uncommon for them to charge on sight whereas it is very unusual for the Cape Buffalo to charge on sight unless he has been in a snare, been harressed by lions all night, or wounded..
I noticed one of the dwarf buffalo you pictured may well rate very high in the record book and is as large or perhaps larger than any I have seen in my lifetime. He is one of the darker bulls with very little red highlighting.
Again, nice post.RAY ATKINSON
07-09-2009, 10:45 AM #5
Anton, Great post... I know the members of AH really enjoy this kind of insightful article. Thanks for taking time to put this together, I am sure that there are many here who have much to gain by learning about hunting in CAR... One of the most amazing countries to hunt in Africa IMHO.
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07-09-2009, 03:51 PM #6
Thank you all for great feedback, I appreciate it!
I agree with Ray, that the Dwarf buffalo is a bit more aggressive than other buffalo species. There are definitely several reasons for this but the biotop they live in is probably one. A healthy buffalo would never attack a person unless you step inside its "personal space" where it feels secure, or a more easy way to put it; you get to close and he doesn't like it!
In the rain forest you always get close to the animals before you see them (with a good wind that is..). At this moment you are already to close and the buffalo will either run away or attack. This will happen more often in the rain forest than on the savanna.
This is also true if you ask the natives that hunt them for meat. As they say; "Shoni nyama" (very bad animal in Sango, native language in CAR.) Every native hunter (or poachers as some would call them..) have a story to tell about a buffalo that charged, and in many cases, wounded them.
In many cases this is also due to the fact that they often hunt them with to small caliber, (12 gauge, slugs, snares etc) and often end up with a wounded buffalo in the thick forest.
When it comes to Central African Savanna Buffalo, that lives in much more open areas than the pure Dwarf species, I do not think, due to my own experiences, that they are more aggressive or have a more "nasty attitude" than any other buffalo in Africa. I've heard hunters calling them both calmer, but also more aggressive than their east-living cousin, the Cape Buff. But I think these conclusions often comes from single unfortunate personal experiences rather than being general opinions.
And to "Thunder Head": A red buffalo is definitely a beautiful trophy, for those who want something special in their trophy room a red buffalo bull is a must.
And Ray: If the red bull up there would be measured as a Dwarf buffalo he would be about No 2 or 3. If it's a Savanna buffalo it would be on the lower No. Quite hard to define...
Hope all this was comprehensive..
07-09-2009, 04:44 PM #7
A great thread Anton, I found it very interesting. One of those red bulls would indeed be a fine and different trophy. Thanks for taking the time to do such a comprehensive post.Skyline Adventures
07-09-2009, 05:24 PM #8
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any of these species of buffs would do. great post! thanks
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