cape buffalo

cape buffalo, species of short-haired African ungulate, or hoofed mammal, Syncerus caffer. The cape, or African, buffalo may reach 7 ft (2.1 m) in length, weigh more than 1,500 lb (670 kg), and reach a height of 5 ft (1.5 m) at the shoulder. Coat color and horn shape seem to vary with the animal's habitat, which ranges from high grass savanna to equatorial forest and extends from Lake Chad south to the Cape of Good Hope and from Senegal, on the Atlantic coast, to the Horn of Africa, on the Indian Ocean. Cape buffalo gather in herds of up to a thousand animals; they graze and drink in the early morning and evening and rest during the heat of midday and at night. They are aggressive and powerfully built, and can easily fend off the attack of a lion. They mate in January or February; after a gestation period of 11 months the cow gives birth to a single calf. Its life span is about 16 years. Cape buffalo are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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