Discussion in 'Judging Trophies' started by Buff, Mar 1, 2009.
I reckon that's reasonably accurate.... Congrats
Hi guys! What are you think about age of this buff? His history is a mystery till last week, when I have save him from a bad finish (someone even tried to cut his left horn, you can see saw mark on bones and that left horn have lost some of the boss.) I think is a 50-60 year old trophy, maybe more. From smaller boss and long, sharp points I think was a 6 year bull, maybe younger. Will love know your opinion. Thanks!
Remote Identification And Measuring Of Buffalo
The use of available technology and the applied learning process, which is fundamental to the College’s training methodology, is aimed at helping develop best practice for the industry. One area currently being addressed by the Sustainable Use and Field Guiding Department is the ageing of wildlife, more particularly buffalo, correctly and to look at whether harvesting of these species, depending on their age, is genetically sustainable.
“The continual removal from any gene pool of the best trophy specimens before their genes have been afforded every opportunity to be passed on will, over decades, result in the gene pool being impacted negatively,” said Dr. Kevin Robertson who heads up the department.
With modern-day technology however, it is now possible to reverse any such trend – and this is where Wynand Uys of Changing Tides 1126CC and his amazing aerial photography comes into the picture. “Through trial and much error Wynand has perfected the technique of being able to take, from a slow-flying fixed-wing aircraft, series of high resolution photographs of buffalo herds. Stitching all the photos together creates a single photo of the whole herd. Small groups of bulls and even lone dagga boys can now also be clearly photographed from the air,” said Dr. Robertson.
In addition, the Taylor First Molar Tooth Aging Method enables us, by measuring the crown heights of the two first molar teeth from a bull buffalos’ lower jaw and by then plotting this average on a graph, to accurately determine a buffalo’s age in years.
When this information is linked back to the bull’s specific secondary sexual characteristics (like boss development, the position and condition of the ear tips and other facial features), one can over time become pretty good at ageing live buffalo bulls as well, he said.
In teaching the students about accurate ageing techniques, he says that by repeating the process a couple of thousand times, it is possible to become really good at such age estimations. “Most buffalo, south of the Zambezi, are born within a distinct late summer calving season. This fact allows then allows us to age live sexually mature buffalo bulls even more accurately, down to a couple of months in fact.”
By also using other methods such as spread of a mature buffalo bull’s ear tips when they are in an alert and “pricked” position and comparing this to the outside spread of a bull’s horns, allows for ranking all sexually mature bulls (those 5 years of age or older) identified in the photographs into the following age (5 to 15 years) and size categories (low 30’s, 30-33”; mid 30’s, 34-36”; high 30’s, 37-39”; low 40’s, 40 to 43”; mid 40’s, 44-46” etc.).
By using available technology and analyzing the photographs taken, it is now possible to accurately determine the average age and trophy quality of a buffalo herd or population. This research, technology and applied learning is set to help guide the industry.
Author: Kevin Robertson, Southern African Wildlife College, Sustainable Use and Field Guiding
Original article appeared in “The Bateleur”, September 2016 issue, the Newsletter of the Southern African Wildlife College.
Interesting that the left horn appears to have lost more soft material than the right. Do you know where it was hunted?
Left boss is cut (thickness at cut point about 1cm.) you can see saw mark in the bone, also. No idea of provenience. Being probably from 1960s I think can be Kenyan (first destination for Italians in the time) but is just a supposition, based also on dimension ( 41,5") but really I don't have a single sure info about this buff
Accurate Buffalo Trophy Assessment
Being able to accurately assess the greatest outside spread of a mature bull buffalo’s horns is an essential skill all aspirant Professional Hunters need to acquire. There is a good reason for this. Along with a 100 pound per side elephant, and a 60 inch kudu, a 40 inch or larger, ‘greatest outside spread’ buffalo has long been the Holy Grail of ‘record book-besotted’ trophy hunters – so being able to recognize what a ’40 inch buffalo’ looks like is imperative.
This impressive set of 12 year old buffalo horns has a greatest outside spread of 40 inches. The straight line ear tip to ear tip measurement of the cardboard ‘ears’ is 32 inches.
Sustainable utilization is a concept essential for the conservation of Africa’s wildlife, simply because it provides the economic engine which drives such activities. And it is thanks to this now well-accepted concept that perceptions surrounding the trophy record books are changing. To be ‘sustainable’ in every sense of the word, the offtake of a small percentage of any wildlife population for hunting purposes must be conducted in such a fashion that these activities are financially, ecologically and genetically sustainable.
To be brutally honest – in these modern-day times where hunting is increasingly under pressure from the numerous animal rights groups, the demise of the “trophy record books’ is looming. In any livestock breeding or ranching situation, a farmer or rancher will put his best, highest-performing ram or bull to his carefully selected, most fertile female breeding stock, cross his fingers and hope for the best! This is known as selective breeding, the reasons for which are primarily to improve economically important performance traits. For obvious reasons, he’ll also get rid of all the poorer quality males before they get the opportunity to breed.
There is enough space to fit one hand’s width between the extended ear tip and the outside of the horn curve. If this can be done on both sides, it’s a good indication that the horns greatest outside spread is 40 inches. (32 + 4 + 4 = 40)
On the contrary, in a trophy hunting situation, the hunter invariably targets the best, most impressive looking, largest-horned males in a population while ignoring the supposedly ‘inferior trophy quality’ individuals. To make matters worse, many, if not all of the biggest and best-looking males are usually hunted while they are still in their breeding prime, or in some instances even before they have had the chance or opportunity to breed.
Removing from the gene pool all the better-than-average trophy specimens before their ‘superior trophy quality’ genes have been passed on allows bulls or rams of poorer trophy quality to breed and pass their ‘inferior’ genes on. Over decades, this practice has resulted in the inevitable – the gradual reduction of the population’s trophy quality.
Buffalo are by far Africa’s most popular dangerous game trophy species. They always have been, but for the past century or longer, trophy hunters have systematically been targeting all the biggest, most impressively horned bulls – and the consequences of such actions are now becoming increasingly evident.
Thanks to the wonders of modern-day technology, aerial photography in high resolution digital format and large crystal clear computer screens it is now possible to age and assess the trophy quality of all the sexually mature bulls in whole buffalo populations. Having an accurate idea of what is really out there, trophy quality and age distribution wise, changes the wildlife management ballgame completely because these techniques now allow wildlife managers to set, with genetic, ecological and financial sustainability in mind, realistic and achievable trophy quotas.
Part of a buffalo herd photographed from the air with modern-day technology. With the quality of high resolution images it is possible to age and trophy assess all the sexually mature bulls within such a herd.
It is generally accepted that well managed buffalo populations, in normal rainfall season times can withstand up to a 2% annual offtake without any detrimental long-term ‘sustainable’ effects, provided of course that the right class of bulls are hunted. The secret to sustainability then is to know which age and trophy size classes can safely be removed from a population without negatively affecting its genetic sustainability.
South of the Zambezi in 400 to 650 mm annual rainfall areas where buffalo naturally occur, such bulls become sexually mature in their fifth year but they will only be big heavy and strong enough, with a boss sufficiently hard to withstand the rigors of “test of strength” contests for dominance and consequently breeding favors by sometime in their eighth year. Such a bull’s breeding tenure lasts on average about three years. Bulls considered past their breeding prime are consequently those twelve years of age or older.
The buffalo bull aging process was discussed in a previous article. To recap briefly, by measuring the crown heights of the lower jaws two, first molar teeth, the buffalo’s age in years can be established. This information, when compared to other easily visible signs like boss development, horn tip sharpness, the extent of neck and shoulder muscling and the condition of the ears makes the live age estimation of mature buffalo bulls easy. With practice it is now possible to age live bulls to within a year. In some cases it is possible to get to within a couple of months.
When the aerial photographs are enlarged to this size, all the sexually mature bulls are easy to identify, age and trophy-assess.
To ensure genetic sustainability, along with age, the only other estimation required is that of the greatest outside horn spread – and this too is easy to estimate accurately when one realizes that the straight line, ear tip to ear tip measurement on a mature buffalo bull when its ears are ‘pricked’ and alert, is between 32 and 33 inches. The width of a man’s hand is roughly four inches. This means that a buffalo bull with an outside horn spread that extends a hand’s width past the erect and extended ear tips on both sides will measure 40 inches (32 + 4 + 4 = 40)
As previously mentioned, a bull with a 40 inch spread or better has long been considered a real ‘trophy’. But if the truth be told, such bulls in most safari hunting areas are these days few and far between. In some such areas only 4 % of mature buffalo bulls now fit into this trophy size category. The vast majority of bulls now fall into the category of having a 36 inch spread or less.
So where does this put things from the perspective of genetic sustainability? This question was the driving force behind the recently formulated Greater Kruger National Park Hunting Protocol (excluding the Kruger National Park where hunting is not permitted). The protocol now states:
The following categories of Buffalo may be hunted:
‘Classic buffalo bull’ – Unlimited spread, minimum age 12 years.
Management buffalo bull – sub 36” (Rowland Ward) spread, minimum age 7 years, not a scrum cap or broken horn bull.
Cows of 12 years or older, without dependant calves may also be hunted
A ‘Classic’ trophy bull – at least 12 years old and with a spread of about 38 in. Bulls this age are usually loners and they will have led a full and hopefully reproductively successful life. Their removal from the gene pool at this stage of their lives will have no effect whatsoever on a population’s genetic sustainability.
Bulls like this fall into the ‘Management’ category. This 8 year old bull has an estimated 35 inch spread
What this essentially means is that bulls with 40 inch or larger spreads can still be hunted – but only those 12 years old or older – in other words only after they have been afforded every opportunity to have led a full reproductive life.
The offering of discounted and younger, management bulls is an attempt to ‘right the wrongs of the past’. By removing such bulls from the gene pools before they get the chance to breed, and by allowing superior ‘trophy quality’ bulls every opportunity to pass their genes on, it is hoped that with time the trends of declining trophy quality in some buffalo populations can be reversed. Only time will tell if this will happen, but what is encouraging is that the will and the technology is now out there to make sure it does.
I have to concur having hunted Dande South hard! We saw plenty of buff during the hunt....................... I would estimate 300-400 buff, but only 1, possibly a 2nd (but i saw that one for a second) were hard bulls. All the rest were lovely wide..............but seriously soft and shiny young bulls.......
end result, 7 days of great experiences but no shot fired!
Solid old Buffalo 40" bull
Been flicking through this thread - and, Jeez, that's a magnificent collection of pics of some old trophy bulls! The experience was almost as good as watching porn!
Check out also: Explain To Me Cape Buffalo Horns
They are all cool. I’d like to hunt one or more.
Bigger ,uglier may be better but they are all cool.
Character would make a nice trophy.
Ok I’m throwing into the discussion because I’ve been questing for a 50 inch buffalo. So far I have a 47” and my wife has a 45” buffalo.
I was talking with my PH about the possibility of hunting a "scrum cap" on our next safari.
The other possibility is an old bull kicked out of the herd with a gap between the bosses from age.
I know neither of these trophies will score high, but it's what the trophy means to the hunter that makes the difference.
Harvesting a Buffalo way past his prime will be my goal.
How hard is it to find those animals or examples? Like as figure what would the % of animals in this class be?
I'm sure the percentage is low on the scrum cap, but I did see a couple that were beyond their prime with large gaps.
That's what hunting is for me, seeking out the one I really want and doing my best to get it.
I hope it works out for me but if not, I'll enjoy the hunting.
This has really been a fantastic post to read through. Some great information and pictures. However there are points in it that sadden me somewhat.
I feel bad that some hunters look for the best animals to shoot. Why do we do it? I've never hunted Africa but my system of shooting deer at home in the UK is to take the poor quality young and most old bucks. Does I take the ones that don't look at their best. The whole prospect of going out and shooting a peak breeding age bull/stag/buck in his prime quite frankly sickens me! We are supposed to care for these animals, but that shows no consideration for the future at all.
Thankfully most of the posts here show that the majority of the group are on the same page as me, which is a relief. But the points system for trophies stinks quite frankly! It's no wonder folk have an issue with trophy hunting if they look into it and find this trend - something needs to change!
It's my dream to hunt a buff but when I do I want him to be as old and tired as I can find. I want a bull that's had a long life fending off lions and winning, and I want him to make it right to the end with dignity. I want to take him just before the lions do to help him out a bit. If that means his horns are worn down to nothing, so what? Unless a peak condition bull needs culling for another reason, sickness or injury, then they should be left. It's certainly not a shot I'd be proud of.
Whilst I respect your opinion, each to his own.
I was on a long range shooting page which included long range hunting.
For me personally, long range hunting is shots out to 200m for plains game...out on the plains!
But to others it's out to 700 plus. Not my cup of tea...but theirs.
The thing you haven't taken into account is that in properties that are sustainably managed, only 4% of eligible males are harvested per annum making sure there's no threat to the gene pool.
I personally love the old worn down buff bulls for exactly the same reason as you.... But I do admire a hugely horned bull too!
We agree on the range thing, I'm completely with you on that. The gene pool thing though, it may only be 4% of animals that are taken but if those 4% are the top quality 4% then it is a problem. Each generation will breed on slightly lesser quality animals than they could be and that isn't good. I'm not saying don't shoot younger bulls, but don't shoot the ones that stand out as the best. That's just silly and long term studies have clearly documented the fact that it's not a good thing. It slowly degrades the genes.
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