Formidable bovids, with a fearsome reputation, Cape buffaloes were introduced to NNP, where they did not (in the last 100 years) exist….
Portrait of a bull: it is true you do not want to meet one of these on foot, but the record shows that generally speaking, buffaloes are intelligent -avoiding people if they can (on the southern boundary of the park, which is unfenced) & are more like (gentle) wild cattle than the monsters familiar from hunter’s tales. If you are hunted, of course you are aggressive….
NNP now boasts close to 1,000 of these large, social grazers & they are well distributed across the Park.
The significance of this number of large grazers on the 30,000 acres of the Park is considerable.
A few months ago & grass-a normally super-abundant resource in the NNP- a part of the one of the richest grassland ecosystems in Africa-was extremely scarce. Buffaloes are particularly vulnerable to drought owing to their massive bulk.
Now the Park is a sea of long-grazing grass & the migratory sp. -mainly zebra & wildebeest, are on the short grass plains OUTSIDE the park.
The daily increasing buffalo population should have an impact on the grasslands of the Park, keeping them sweet & precluding the need for controlled burns by the Park’s managers, KWS.
And will our lions (estimated at 35-40) learn to hunt this increasing source of prey?
Typical members of a herd: cows & calves (a distinctive light brown colour) whilst bulls come & go according to the Bull Politics of the herd, where the meanest & most powerful get to mate with the cows that are in oestrous…..
Buffaloes are nearly always accompanied by very useful tickbirds (ox-peckers) as they are invariably afflicted by masses of biting ticks….
Portrait of a bachelor herd…..
A herd on the plains in the Athi Basin……
and the herd bull……..