On Safari in East Africa: Buffalo

We had a spectacular month exploring East Africa – a real dream come true and centerpiece of our trip. It was awe-inspiring to see first hand in the wild what we had only seen in zoos. Handpicking the best of the best of the thousands of photos we took, the On Safari in East Africa series showcases the animals we were privileged to see in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.


In the dictionary, next to the word grumpy, there should be a picture of an African Buffalo – the grumpiest, surliest animals we saw on safari. Whenever we saw them, they would turn and look at us like we had rudely interrupted their morning coffee. We weren't interrupting much since usually they would be lounging by the river, or near a mud hole. When actually bothered or attacked, a buffalo herd forms a protective circle around their young. They will even attack and kill lions and their cubs. 

Despite their placid cow-like appearance, their nicknames include "The Widowmaker" and "The Black Death." Buffalo gore and kill more than 200 people each year. They are known to ambush and attack hunters that wound them.

Male-only groups of buffalo, so-called "loser" groups, are formed by older males. When they have grown too old to defeat the younger males for breeding rights, they leave the herd and set out on their own. These "losers" will often find one another and form groups for protection.

Like many animals, buffalo are plagued by insects. You can often spot them wallowing in the mud or bathing near rivers to rid themselves of the biting bugs.


The horns of adult males have fused bases which form a bone shield. The shield, called a "boss", can even deflect bullets.