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WHAT IS THE BUFFALO?


A buffalo's habitat varies. They live primarily on plains, prairies, river valleys and sometimes forests. Free ranging buffalo occur only in national parks and reserves such as Yellowstone and Custer. While we often call these animals buffalo, their proper name is bison. True buffalo only live in Africa and Asia.



The American buffalo is the largest terrestrial animal in North America. Bulls can weigh up to 2000 pounds, but are very good swimmers in spite of their weight. A buffalo will eat anywhere from 2% to 3% of their body weight "A DAY!!!" This means for every 1,000 pounds, 20 to 30 pounds of food is needed. Bison can weigh up to 2,000 pounds so if you do the math, that is over 60 pounds of food per animal per day. Major buffalo's predator is the lion, that preferentially attacks the small bachelor groups, since the great herds offer a high level of protection to their members. Hyenas prey on calves and on sick or weak animals, and crocodiles can grab them while fording a river.














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Herds are ruled by dominance relationships established according to fighting abilities. The great herd is dominated by an adult bull, but the one who leads the group when moving is generally an old cow. Females climb in the rank after maternity. When moving, dominant individuals march in the first place and in the central core, accessing to the best food and achieving better protection against predators. When they are 3 years old, young males leave their mother's group to associate with equals, always within the herd, but they have to wait till they are 7 or 8 years old to exercise their fighting abilities and gain the right to mate. Buffalos are considered nocturnal, but can also be seen during the day. They typically spend about 5 to 10.5 hours each day hunting for food. It is not uncommon for a herd of buffalos to travel 17 mi (27 km) for food and water during the dry season. However, in the breeding season herds only range about 2 mi (5.5 km) daily.

 

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