Judging African Savanna Buffalo

Thunder head

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I will be headed to Burkina Faso in February. I want to be able to judge the buffalo for myself. Does anyone have any tips for judging the maturity of a bull.

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West African Savanna Buffalo
Syncerus caffer planiceros

Description: Shoulder height 45-50 inches (115-125 cm). Weight 700-900 lbs (320-410 kg).

Smaller than the Central African savanna buffalo, with differently shaped horns. Most horns are rather similar to those of the dwarf forest buffalo, sweeping outward, backward and slightly upward; however, they are longer and heavier. Frontal bosses are absent or minimal. Body color varies from brownish black to reddish to tan, and different colors may be encountered in the same group.

Distribution: The savanna and woodland zone north of the high coastal rain forest in West Africa, from southern Senegal eastward through northern Guinea, southern Mali, northern Ivory Coast, southern Burkina Faso, northern Ghana, northern Togo, northern Benin, far southwestern Niger, northern Nigeria, and northern Cameroon.

West Africa, also called Western Africa and the West of Africa, is the westernmost subregion of the African continent. West Africa has been defined in Africa as including the 18 countries Benin, Burkina Faso, the island of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo.


West African Savanna Buffalo

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Central African Savanna Buffalo
Syncerus caffer brachyceros

Description: Shoulder height 49-55 inches (125-140 cm). Weight 880 - 1,100 lbs (400-500 kg).

Larger in body and horns than the West African savanna buffalo, but smaller than the Nile buffalo. These animals exhibit considerable individual variation in size, color and horn configuration. Body color can be brownish black, reddish, or tan. Horn shape can vary from the Nile type to the West African savanna type. Different colors and various horn configurations are often seen in the same herd.

Distribution: The savanna and woodland zone north of the high equatorial rain forest in southern Chad, the Central African Republic except in the far southwest; and the northern edge of Congo (K), adjacent to the C.A.R. and east of Bangui.

Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. Middle Africa (as used by the United Nations when categorizing geographic subregions) is an analogous term that includes Angola, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe. All of the states in the UN subregion of Middle Africa, plus those otherwise commonly reckoned in Central Africa (11 states in total), constitute the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Since its independence in 2011, South Sudan has also been commonly included in the region.


Central African Savanna Buffalo

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enysse

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I think this a great way to see a lot of shape and size, thanks Jerome!
 

Thunder head

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Thanks Jerome,
I have seen some of those photos on the web. Lots there I have not seen. Looks like a wide boss followed by mass are the two best indicators.
 

morioc

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Hi Thunder head,

I will try to help you judging this kind of buffalo.

First of all you have to pick up a bull in herd (from 15 to 100 heads). Often the bush is thick, so you have to be close enough, 50/60 yards, closer is better !!! The bulls are often on the side of the herd (on the wind side, so you can really see them) and at the back, protecting the herd. Female are smaller and thiner than the bulls. The front part of the body, shoulder and neck are not strong. The horns are thin, no boss but can be long. So double check.

You can train yourself with the following picture, tell me if you see any bull !!!

1.JPG


To judge a bull you have many criterias.

Look at the body signs: in a herd pick the biggest body and check the thickness of the neck, the roman nose and sometimes the dewlap. If there is many hairs on the penis it is also a good sign. All together you surely have a mature or an old bull.

When a buffalo is looking at you, the spread of the ears is about 27'', so you can appreciate the length of the horns. On the following picture n°2 the spread of the horns is about 25''.

2.JPG


The first thing you have to look if it is a shooter or not is the bases of the horns. If it is still white he is young with soft bosses.The gap between the horns is not a sign of age at all.

If the bases are hard and the horns smooth, you have a mature or old bull.

If the bases are hard, smooth horns and worn tips you have an old bull, over 12 years old. The best you can get.

Sure enough, you don't have 2 days to check all these criteras and the visibility is not perfect, so you have to trust your PH...

I hope it helps. Enjoy your trip in Burkina, for sure a great place to hunt.

Christophe

4.JPG
3.JPG
5.JPG
 

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Very cool, I think these buffalo are wonderful and would really enjoy hunting them one day.
 

morioc

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Thanks, this is just to help Thunder head and those who are going to this part of Africa soon.
It is much easier to pick up a bull on a cape buffalo herd (pic. attached) than in a savanna buffalo herd (pic. n°1)

DSC08899.JPG
 
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