Last week whilst on an afternoon drive, we got word of a large herd of buffalo at Leopard Dam lying in the water. As is the case whenever this occurs, we immediately responded and made our way there. The opportunity to see a big herd in the water is always a special sighting and this was no different. With binoculars out and everyone viewing different individuals along with their unique behaviour, our attention was immediately drawn to the young calves that were front and centre, bathing in the soothing cool water on this hot afternoon in the lowveld. The sound of grunts and “moo’s” along with the chorus of oxpeckers really made this sighting a memorable one.
One of the most fascinating things about these herds is how they work together as a unit with a common goal – to help each other. The bulls will defend the herd when threatened and individuals are even known to try to rescue those that have been caught by lions, by charging at the lions and chasing them away. The social structure of these big herds also makes for interesting reading – they mostly consist of smaller groups of separate families which, when together, create this massive unit. Having this big herd of buffalo in our area so regularly not only creates incredible photo opportunities but also attracts lions to the area, with buffalo being one of their favourite meals.
Often feared as one of the most dangerous animals to encounter on foot, these highly unpredictable animals have never been domesticated, unlike the Asian Water Buffalo. Here at KwaMbili we are very lucky to often have a few “Dagga Boys” (old males that have left the herd) in our Mbili Dam close to the lodge, and they can be viewed regularly from our private hide. These incredible animals are not to be underestimated but rather respected.
Report and images by ranger Andi