Fun Facts About Buffaloes

Water Buffalo
Credit: Konstantin Karchevskiy /

Buffalo are large members of the Bovine family that include yaks, bison, antelope and domestic cattle. The water buffalo or Asian buffalo is the largest member of the group at 5 to 6.2 feet (1.5 to 1.9 m) and weighing 1,500 to 2,650 lbs (700 to 1,200 kg).  Other types, like the African Buffalo are found in large herds across Africa.

Male buffalos have enormous, curving horns that can stretch up to five feet. Females also have horns but they are much smaller in size. Buffalos are a herding animal and stick close together when chased by predators. Their coloring varies from reddish-brown to black and they are herbivores that subsist mainly on grasses.

Water Buffalo are a domesticated animal used mainly in Southeast Asia for tilling rice fields and to provide milk. The African Buffalo and its subspecies Cafe Buffalo live in the swamps, forests and plains of Africa. Unlike the water buffalo, they have never been domesticated.

Other facts about buffalo

In Southeast Asia, buffalos were domesticated more than 5,000 years ago.

Credit: Chuck Bargeron, The University of Georgia
Credit: Chuck Bargeron, The University of Georgia

Domesticated buffalo are sometimes called “living tractor of the East” because of their use in plowing and transportation.

Wild water buffalo are believed to be ancestor of domesticated buffalos. They have been an endangered species for more than two decades.

Buffalos prefer lounging in muddy wetlands and swamp much of the day and their cloven hoofs prevent them from sinking too far into the ground.

A buffalo will create a shallow depression in soil to roll around in. This could be a type of grooming, play or sometimes for relief from insect bites.

The African buffalo and water buffalo look very similar but scientists say they are not closely related.

African buffalo have horns with fused bases forming a mass of bone on their head strong enough to withstand an attack.

Although they are very distantly related to true buffaloes, North American Bison are also called buffaloes.

Other resources:

National Geographic - Water Buffalo

Encyclopedia Britannica - Water Buffalo

IUCN Red List: Bubalis Arnee

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology - Water Buffalo

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