The African buffalo is a gregarious animal, the savanna subspecies forming large, imposing herds consisting of over 1,000 individuals (3). The forest buffalo, due to its more restricted habitat, forms small groups of up to 12 animals, consisting of related females and their offspring and one or more males (7). Males not belonging to a herd are solitary, or form bachelor herds (7). Living in a herd has its advantages as information can be shared between herd members regarding the best places to feed, and it also offers increased protection against predators (10).
Bonds between females in an African buffalo herd are strong (7), and if one is attacked by a predator such as a lion, the rest of the herd will respond to its bellowing distress calls and rush to its defence. A herd of buffalo are easily capable of driving away a whole pride of lions to protect a herd member (9). Living in large herds is not as important for the forest buffalo as it lives in a habitat that does not suit carnivores, such as lions, and it can easily retreat into cover if required (7).
In order to escape the heat, the African buffalo spends most of its day lying in the shade. It can often be found drinking water in the early morning and late afternoon, and most feeding takes place during the cooler night (3). The African buffalo grazes extensively on fresh grass, turning only to herbs, shrubs and trees when there is a deficiency of grass (9). The dietary habits of the African buffalo are responsible for opening up areas of long grassland for other species with more selective feeding habits, and thus it plays an important ecological role in the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa (9).
Mating occurs primarily between March and May in the African buffalo, and the gestation period lasts for around 11 months (7), with calves born from January to April (9). The bond between the mother and calf is very strong (7), and within just a few hours, the newborn calf is capable of keeping up with its herd (3). The African buffalo is known to live for up to 26 years (7).