Buffalo are large, cattle like animals. Once widely distributed in Southern Africa, the buffalo’s numbers have been greatly reduced by large-scale hunting and sickness such as Rinderpest and foot and mouth disease. Now restricted to the eastern regions of South Africa, they are abundant in the MalaMala area and are frequently seen wallowing in muddy pools or grazing in the vicinity of dams in the reserve.
The buffalo is highly gregarious and usually occurs in large herds, with the largest herd recorded on the MalaMala Game Reserve estimated to be in the region of 1200 plus individuals. Bachelor groups and single animals are also often encountered. A dominance hierarchy occurs within buffalo herds. The dominant bull or bulls mate with all receptive cows who each produce a single calf after a gestation period of about 11 months. Although a favourite prey item of lions, the large horns and powerful muscles of the buffalo makes it a formidable adversary and lions have been known to come off second best in such encounters.
The buffalo is regarded by many as the most dangerous of the Big 5, but this really only pertains to hunting situations. Buffalo kill more hunters than any other member of that group. Left to their own devices and given a comfortable berth they are quite peacable and will avoid contact with humans, given enough advance notification of their presence. In dense areas such as, reed beds, buffalos can react to being suddenly surprised with a fight rather than flight response, with a potentially fatal issue for the unfortunate albeit unwise human.
2014: Sightings of buffalo were recorded on 349 days. A buffalo herd exceeding 700 animals was viewed on 13 July. On average buffalo were seen three times a day.
2013: Buffalo were seen on all but 8 days. Buffalo herds exceeding 100 animals were viewed on 154 days of the year. In excess of 5 buffalo sightings were recorded daily.
2012: Buffalo sightings averaged 3 per day. Viewed on all but 3 days in 2012. The most sightings of buffalo in a single day were 7.
2011: Buffalo were viewed every day in 2011. In excess of 68 buffalo sightings were recorded monthly. Large herds of buffalo numbering over 200 animals were seen on 204 days.
2010: Buffalo were viewed on every day in 2010. In excess of 4 buffalo sightings were recorded daily.
2009: Buffalo were recorded on 364 days in 2009, a 99.73% success rate. An average of of 4 buffalo were recorded daily. Buffalo herds exceeding 100 animals were viewed on 229 days.
2008: Buffalo were seen on all but 2 days. Buffalo herds were seen on an average of 20 times per month.
An excess of 3 Buffalo were recorded daily.
2007: Buffalo were seen every day. Buffalo herds exceeding 500 animals were viewed on 150 days of the year.
2006: Buffalo were seen on all but 3 days. Buffalo herds exceeding 450 animals were seen on average 6 times per week.
2005: Buffalo were recorded on 365 days with a 100% success rate.
2004: Buffalo herds exceeding 500 animals were viewed on 138 days.
2003: Buffalo were seen on all but 6 days. The number of buffalo sightings in a single day averaged 4.
2002: Buffalo were seen on all but 20 days. The large herd numbering 600 animals was viewed on 169 days.
2001: Buffalo were seen on all but 37 days. The large herd of buffalo numbering 600 animals was seen on 200 days.
2000: Buffalo were seen on all but 27 days.
1999: Buffalo were seen on all but 8 days.