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African Buffalo Hunting

All You Need To Know About Successful African Buffalo Hunting

African buffalo hunting is by far the most popular of all dangerous game hunting in Africa. Hunters may take one lion or leopard in their African hunting career but will keep coming back to hunt more buffalo. Be warned though - African buffalo hunting is the most addictive sport hunting in the world!

"You're going after African buffalo. You've read a lot about them and no doubt you're excited over the possibility of some thrilling encounters. Well, calm down. Chances are about five thousand to one against your meeting up with one of those much-publicized, murderously minded bulls. What you're more likely to see are the rapidly disappearing hind ends of hundreds of shy, apprehensive herds." Alexander Lake

African Buffalo Trophy Minimums

RW MinimumRW RecordRW Measurement MethodSCI MinimumSCI RecordSCI Measurement Method
42" 64" 12 100" 141" 4
RW MinimumRW RecordRW Measurement MethodSCI MinimumSCI RecordSCI Measurement Method
38" 441/4" 12 70" 1153/8" 4
RW MinimumRW RecordRW Measurement MethodSCI MinimumSCI RecordSCI Measurement Method
37" 461/8 12 65" 963/8 4
RW MinimumRW RecordRW Measurement MethodSCI MinimumSCI RecordSCI Measurement Method
20" 28"  11 40" 724/8 4

Where To Hunt African Buffalo

African buffalo are available to hunt in one form or another in all African hunting countries.

  • The Cape or southern buffalo can be hunted in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Uganda. Cape buffalo are found in Botswana but are not huntable since the Government hunting ban was imposed on all controlled hunting areas throughout the country.
  • The western savanna buffalo may be hunted in Benin, Burkina Faso and Cameroon.In Central African Republic (CAR) the western savanna buffalo is often known as the central African buffalo but it is still the same subspecies.
  • The Nile or north-eastern buffalo may be hunted in the savanna woodlands of west Ethiopia and west Uganda.
  • The dwarf forest buffalo may be hunted on a forest hunt in Cameroon and CAR. A few forest buffalo hunts are available in the Republic of Congo.

African Buffalo Hunting Prices (For Informative Use Only)

The Cape or southern buffalo is by far the most popular buffalo to hunt and often hunters are keen to know where they will get best value for money and the best quality or biggest trophies.

Buffalo beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some hunters have very firm ideas about how their buffalo trophy should look. Some just want the biggest horn spread possible, regardless of the maturity of the animal and the fact it may have a soft boss. Others want an old animal with hard boss, the wider the better, and are not too concerned with spread. Some hunters want a stylish deep horn drop and curl, while others are looking specifically for a really worn old boy with hardly any typical horn shape left, commonly called a scrum-cap.

The other important buffalo hunting consideration is the quality of the hunting experience and 'atmosphere' of the hunt that you may want. Do you want to hunt buffalo in a traditional wilderness area or are you happy to hunt one on a fenced game ranch?

Cape Buffalo Hunting In Tanzania

  • There is no doubt that the biggest Cape buffalo herds are to be found in Tanzania and this is the place to go to hunt Cape buffalo BUT it is expensive, not least because you need charter flights to access most hunt areas. The least expensive Tanzanian buffalo hunt is on the 10 day licence where you may take 2 buffalo, plus a handful of plains game. You may occasionally find 7 day buffalo hunts offered, sometimes only for 1 buffalo, sometimes for 2 buffalo. These short hunts will still be using a 10 day licence and the outfitter may offer them because they are popular with clients, being cheaper and they can get more clients in and spread the buffalo quota further.
  • In Tanzania you are only allowed to hunt Cape buffalo bulls.
  • When you are looking at 7 or 10 day buffalo hunt pricing in Tanzania, at first glance you will find quite a variation. This is because some outfitters quote for a whole package including air charter flights. Depending on where the hunt is exactly located, but say, the north Selous, you will be looking at US$19,200 to 21,900 for a 1x1 10 day hunt + trophy fees and about US$17,500 for a 1x1 7 day hunt + trophy fees. Other outfitters quote a daily rate + all Government taxes + air charter which when totalled should be in the ballpark of a buffalo 'package' with an average quality outfitter. The more renowned 'upmarket' outfitters, of course, will be far more expensive, even if they offer 10 day buffalo hunts, which some don't.
  • The Government trophy fee for buffalo is US$1900 - for all buffalo whether it is the 1st, 2nd or 3rd buffalo (21/28 day only) taken on licence. However you will rarely see this quoted because varying percentages of Community Development/Anti-poaching fees are added. Outfitters frequently charge different trophy fees for the 1st and 2nd buffalo. So for the 1st buffalo you are looking at a trophy fee from US$2200 to US$2900 and for the 2nd buffalo, US$2500 to US$3100.

Cape Buffalo Hunting In Zambia

  • Zambia has some great buffalo hunting, particularly in the Luangwa Valley and the Kafue regions. In 2014 Government concessions were closed to hunting with only privately owned game ranches and hunting reserves allowed to conduct hunting safaris. However recently the Zambian Government lifted this ban and is allowing hunting of most game, including elephants. The hunting of cats is still banned, pending surveys of their numbers and 'sustainability measures'.
  • Buffalo hunts in Zambia are frequently offered as varying length packages with other specific game such as hippo, crocodile or roan etc. If these packages are of interest, you are looking at daily rates of US$1200 1x1 + trophy fees. The minimum hunt length for buffalo only is 7 days. Privately owned game ranches may offer lower daily rates but higher trophy fees. Buffalo trophy fees may range from US$4000 to US$7500.
  • Hunts in the wilderness areas of Zambia are fantastic experiences but are generally more expensive because the costs of logistics are high, as in Tanzania.

Cape Buffalo Hunting In Mozambique

  • In Mozambique, buffalo hunting is commonly offered in 7 or 10 day packages which include the buffalo licence fee and trophy fee. In addition there are lots of combo buffalo packages of different hunt lengths and animals. If you want to hunt other animals on your package, you will need to ask the outfitter about quota and pre-pay the additional non-refundable licence fees.
  • A 7 day buffalo only inclusive 1x1 package may range from US$11000 to US$14000. A 10 day buffalo 1x1 buffalo package goes from US$12500 to US$15500.
  • A regular buffalo hunt daily rate goes from US$1200 to US$1350, with a licence fee from US$1050 to US$1400 + buffalo trophy fee from US$3200 to US$6200.
  • Buffalo package hunts in Mozambique rarely, if ever, offer a partial refund if you don't, for whatever reason, take a buffalo. Always read the full terms and conditions on these hunts and if package refunds are not specified, make a point of asking the outfitter.

Cape Buffalo Hunting In Namibia

  • Buffalo hunting in Namibia is restricted to conservancies in the Caprivi area because of strict veterinary control to prevent bovine disease spreading to affect cattle.
  • Buffalo only hunting is usually for set minimums of 7, 8 or 10 hunting days + trophy fee. The 1x1 hunt rates go from about US$13200 up to US$14200 with buffalo trophy fees from US$3250 to US$8500. There is also a conservancy fee to pay on these Caprivi buffalo hunts.
  • If you want to hunt other dangerous game as well as a buffalo, there are plenty of dangerous game combo hunts offered.

Cape Buffalo Hunting In Zimbabwe

  • Buffalo hunting in Zimbabwe is the least expensive in Africa because generally area fees are lower, there are higher buffalo quotas and easier logistics.
  • In Zimbabwe you can find any number of buffalo bull and other dangerous game or plains game combo hunts, all-inclusive buffalo package hunts, short 'special offer' buffalo only hunts and still cheaper hunts for 'non-trophy' buffalo or non-exportable buffalo.
  • Some examples of 1x1 buffalo hunting prices go from a 5 day non-exportable buffalo hunt at US$6800, a 7 day 'special' for US$13000 + US$4000 buffalo bull trophy fee and 10 day buffalo trophy fee included packages from US$15520 to US$22500. A straight daily rate + trophy fee hunt may be in the range of US$1100 to US$1700 with buffalo bull trophy fees going from US$4000 to US$5500. An undefined 'non-trophy' buffalo bull is around US$3500.
  • Don't forget you can hunt cow buffalo in Zimbabwe for a considerably lower trophy fee of US$1500.

Cape Buffalo Hunting In South Africa

  • In South Africa, buffalo hunting can be done on fenced game ranches or in the bigger reserves near the Kruger National Park.
  • Like Namibia, there are veterinary 'red line' regulations on the movement of buffalo to protect domestic cattle from various bovine diseases, such as foot and mouth, bovine tuberculosis, brucellosis and corridor disease. However, unlike Namibia, South Africa has quite a few game ranches where herds of 'clean' or disease-free buffalo are raised for breeding and hunting. These buffalo have gone through the hoops of being quarantined, tested for disease, tagged, chipped and registered at great expense to the owners. Thus if you are going to hunt a 'clean' buffalo on a game ranch you are going to be paying a hefty trophy fee. However, you may have the 'advantage' of knowing your buffalo's exact horn size before you shoot it. If you want an old heavy-bossed bull, be careful if considering this kind of hunt. You might get the biggish spread but the boss is likely to be soft or at least, not at its full potential, if the owner allows the bull to be shot when too young.
  • As with many horned game animals hunted in South Africa, you may pay different package hunt costs and trophy fees for buffalo depending on horn spread measurement. Some outfitters will offer as many as 5 different buffalo horn size price increments, the lowest being for a scrum-cap or helmet buffalo who may only measure 34" spread, rising through to a 'superior' trophy bull with about a 44" spread. Generally a horn spread of 38" is the magic number that divides 'non-trophy' and 'trophy buffalo' bulls.
  • Buffalo hunting prices in South Africa generally have reasonable daily rates but high trophy fees. Daily rates run from about US$350 to US$600 and buffalo bull trophy fees from US$11000 to US$15000. The sky's the limit for an ex-breeding bull in the area of 50" horn spread.
  • Cow buffalo in South Africa have trophy fees in the range of US$5000.

Cape And Nile Buffalo Hunting In Uganda

  • The Cape buffalo of Uganda are generally smaller than those found in Tanzania and elsewhere.
  • The Nile buffalo of Uganda are larger than the ones found in Ethiopia.
  • The 1x1 Cape buffalo hunts in Uganda have hunt rates of between US$1400 and US$1850 per day with trophy fees of US$2500 to US$3000.
  • Hunted in west Uganda in the Nile river basin, Nile buffalo are slghtly more expensive - a 10 day hunt is about US$19500 and the Nile buffalo trophy fee ranges from US$4000 to US$5000.
  • How to tell the difference between a Cape buffalo and a Nile buffalo? To quote Peter Flack..."The acid test, I believe, is to draw a horizontal line through the eyes sockets of the buffalo. In the case of genuine Nile buffalo, the downward sweep of the horns will never break this horizontal line".

Nile Buffalo Hunting In Ethiopia

  • The Nile buffalo of Ethiopia are generally smaller than the ones found in Uganda. Also there are no Cape buffalo in Ethiopia to confuse matters - just Nile buffalo.
  • If you are going to Ethiopia first and foremost for a mountain nyala, you'll need to add a lowland hunt location such as Danikal, if you want a Nile buffalo too. If you only want a Nile buffalo and some of the special Ethiopian lowland species, a 16 day hunt will be in the region of US$57500. The trophy fee on a Nile buffalo is around US$3000.

Western Savanna Buffalo Hunting In Benin

  • The western savanna buffalo come in 3 colours - noir, noir-rouge et rouge. If you want the largest horned beast, hunt the noir or black buffalo. The noir-rouge (black-red) and rouge (red) are generally smaller horned but all are extremely tenacious, irritable and agile - even more so than the Cape buffalo on a bad day.
  • When looking at western buffalo hunt prices in Benin, be aware some outfitters price the daily or total hunt rates in US$ and the trophy fees in Euros. Others use Euros for the whole hunt.
  • The cheapest option for western buffalo + a few plains game in Benin is a 6 day hunt at about 6000 Euros. This rises to US$36000 for a 20 day full bag of Benin game animals, including the western buffalo and western roan. The western buffalo trophy fee ranges from 800 Euros to 2000 Euros.

Western Savanna Buffalo Hunting In Burkina Faso

  • In Burkina Faso the cheapest hunt option is an 8 day 1x1 western buffalo + plains game hunt at about 7700 Euros. The price rises if you add more days and a western roan into the deal. In Burkina Faso the western buffalo trophy fee is from 480 Euros to 550 Euros.

Western Savanna & Dwarf Forest Buffalo Hunting In Cameroon

  • In Cameroon the western savanna buffalo is a Group A savanna animal so can be one of 2 choices of animal to hunt from this group.
  • Again hunt prices may appear in US$ or Euros, with the trophy fees usually in Euros.
  • You can opt for any number of hunt lengths or western buffalo combos. For example, a 14 day 1x1 western buffalo hunt with Lord Derby eland will be about 23500 Euros, a 9 day 1x1 western buffalo and western roan will be 12500 Euros. The Lord Derby eland is the star animal of a Cameroon savanna hunt so the hunt prices tend to be lower where an outfitter excludes the LDE from a hunt package.
  • There is the occasional western buffalo package hunt offered where the buffalo trophy fee is included. For example a 10 day package will be around US$15000.
  • Trophy fees for the western savanna buffalo range from 1800 Euros to 2000 Euros.
  • A self-guided hunt or chasse librefor western buffalo can be had for about US$10000 with a trophy fee of US$2500.
  • The dwarf forest buffalo is a Group A forest hunt animal, so can be 1 of 2 animals selected from this group. The most popular forest animal to hunt is usually the bongo, so most hunts offered are various length package forest hunts. For example, a 1x1 14 day bongo hunt (bongo trophy fee included), with the option to hunt a dwarf forest buffalo is about US$40500. If you take the bongo option out of the hunt, you can have a 13 day forest buffalo and sitatunga hunt for around US$33000. The dwarf forest buffalo trophy fee runs from 1500 Euros to 2000 Euros.

Western Savanna & Dwarf Forest Buffalo Hunting In CAR

  • The western savanna buffalo is frequently appears as the 'central African buffalo' on trophy lists for CAR, though it is technically the same animal, Syncerous caffer brachyceroswhich is synonymous with Syncerous caffer planiceros. SCI also classifies this buffalo as 'central African'.
  • Again hunt prices may appear in US$ or Euros, with the trophy fees usually in Euros.
  • You can do various length combo hunts which include the western buffalo, such as forest & savanna, savanna only with Lord Derby eland or western buffalo with plains game. For instance a 1x1 19 day forest and savanna combo hunt will be in the range of US$55000. Savanna only hunts may go from 9000 Euros for 7 days, 22000 Euros for 14 days and 34000 Euros for 21 days. Trophy fees for western / central buffalo go from 800 Euros to 2200 Euros.
  • The dwarf forest buffalo can be hunted on a forest hunt in the Central African Republic (CAR). A 1x1 14 day forest hunt will be about US$15000 and the dwarf buffalo trophy fee is 5000 Euros.

African Buffalo Hunting Methods

  • African buffalo hunting methods are based on the fact that all buffalo need to drink at least once a day, preferably twice a day. Their feeding and drinking places are usually in different locations and the buffalo routinely walk between them, resting at the hottest time of day.
  • Roads are walked or driven until tracks are found crossing the road and waterholes are checked for spoor.
  • The tracks are assessed to see how are fresh they are, how many buffalo are in the group and wind direction is checked, to determine whether the tracks are worth following.
  • If the tracks look good you will begin walking the spoor - this can be anything from a few minutes to many hours.
  • Buffalo hear, see and smell very well and can spot the slightest movement if looking in your direction.
  • Calibres of 375 H&H or more and slow/deep penetrating soft point bullets or solid bullets are recommended.
  • Most buffalo are shot at ranges or about 60 yards or closer.

A Good African Buffalo Trophy

  • Having a thrilling hunt or stalk is the primary objective for most buffalo hunters.
  • As mentioned earlier for Cape buffalo, some hunters have specific ideas on what they want their buffalo trophy to look like...the classic hard, fused boss with a deep, symmetrical drop and curl, being quite popular. Some prefer a rough, ridged boss, others like a huge, smooth boss which come with years of horn rubbing.
  • Some hunters prefer abnormally formed, broken horns or very worn tips as their trophy of choice.
  • A good solid boss is or should be the most important feature a hunter should look for because it is because it is the most obvious and accurate indicator of old age. Other signs of advanced years are a general loss of condition with white/grey patches of hair and bald areas on the face and body, probably with a fine collection of old scars. The older the bull the better, as he will be done with breeding and will have already made his genetic contribution to the next generation.
  • Spread should be as wide as possible but definitely attached to a solid boss. Some hunters want a big spread above all and seem quite content to shoot an bull at prime breeding age with a soft boss. If you look carefully you will see some trophy photographs where the hunter or PH have tried to disguise the soft boss and the fringe of hair round it by smearing dirt over the boss or using Photoshop on the image.
  • A young Cape buffalo with a soft boss has a fringe of black hair growing at the front of the boss and often into the middle where the horns meet. The boss looks smooth and grey and if you were to touch it, it gives under pressure. The horns of a young Cape buffalo bull sit high with little drop in them. Other signs of youth in a buffalo bull are a full black coat with a lack of white or bald patches. A young bull with a soft boss looks completely different to an old bull who may have a flat or practically non-existant boss due to wear. An old bull does not always have a huge bulbous boss but what little boss he does have left is rock solid.
  • African forest buffalo, western savanna buffalo and Nile buffalo have much smaller horns than the Cape buffalo. Dwarf forest buffalo horns rarely fuse in the middle and just stick out backwards in a curve. (Rowland Ward measures the dwarf forest buffalo differently to the other buffalo, the spread being tip to tip and judged on length of longest horn). Nile and western buffalo horns are flat with ridges and have very little drop and no pronounced boss. A good trophy will be an old bull with the biggest horns you can find or an old boy with worn horns

African Buffalo Hunting Shot Placement

  • Heart and lungs are the largest target area.
  • If the animal is standing at right angles to you, bring your crosshairs up the foreleg and divide the body in half and then in half again and the centre of the heart will be found at the top of that first (lowest) dividing line.
  • If the animal is at an obtuse angle to you, remember the previous rule and aim at the opposite shoulder and you'll hit the same area.
  • If the animal is standing facing away from you, aim at the root of the tail where it joins the body.
  • If the animal is facing you, aim for the bottom of the V you will see in the dewlap and in line with the shoulder joints. This particular shot is should be avoided if the hunter is using marginal or soft nose bullets or a 'just legal' calibre such as a .375 H&H. The reason for this is because the chest has a large dewlap of loose skin and fat that has a massive mattressing effect that absorbs energy from the bullet and reduces penetration. It is better to use a solid in this situation.
  • If the animal is facing you and feeding with his head down, it might be possible to place the bullet over his head and into his spine.
  • African Hunter Shot Placement Pocket Field Guide for buffalo

African Buffalo Bull Vital Statistics

CapeWestern SavannaNileDwarf Forest
Shoulder Height 60-65" 150-165cm 45-50" 115-125cm   55" 140cm 40-45" 100-115cm
Weight  1,400-1,800lb 650-800kg 700-900lb 320-410kg   1,100-1,300lb 500-590kg 550-700lb 250-320kg

African Buffalo Habitat and Requirements

  • All types of African buffalo need good grazing - grass, swamp vegetation and a reliable water source.
  • They need shady areas for resting in at hottest time of day and mud and swampy areas for wallowing.

African Buffalo Social Structure

  • All African buffalo are herd animals which are led by a senior matriarch cow. There is often a dominant bull for defence purposes in a herd but the matriarch cow seems to make the decisions. All African buffalo live in a variety of herd sizes, sometimes Cape buffalo form herds of 1000 animals.
  • Mature Cape buffalo bulls live apart from the main herd and are solitary or in small bachelor groups. These bulls take turns to visit the main herd to mate and are also known as 'dagga boys' as they are often covered in mud. The really old bulls are solitary or form small groups but do not rejoin the herd for any reason.
  • The dwarf forest buffalo live in smaller groups up to 30 animals maximum.

African Buffalo Gestation Period

  • After a gestation period of around 11 months, 1 offspring is born.
  • Most adult females will be pregnant or have dependant young most of the time.

African Buffalo Gender Identification

  • In all buffalo species, the bulls are bigger and more muscular.
  • Cape buffalo bulls have a prominent horn boss right across the forehead which is soft and hairy in young bulls. Cows are lighter in colour, smaller and less muscular. Cape buffalo cow horns are generally flatter and don't usually have a boss and don't usually have the strong drop and curl of a bull. Occasionally there are cows that do look unusually masculine with a bit of a boss.
  • Buffalo bulls have a large penile sheath. A large belly button on a cow should not be confused with penile sheath of a bull.

African Buffalo Trophy Permits (2015)

N/A N/A N/A   N/A

African Buffalo Trophy Taxidermy

  • If you haven't the space for a full mount, all African Buffalo make spectacular shoulder mounts or skull mounts.
  • In addition, the back skin can always be leathered and make into boots or any leather accessory and the hooves make unusual lamp stands or book-ends.
  • Let your taxidermist know if you prefer the horns to be left looking natural rather than polished black. If you want a true representation of your buffalo as you remember him, you might ask for him not look too clean and primped, possibly with some splashes of mud on his face. Also if your bull has scars, one eye or other peculiar disfigurements, you will need to instruct the taxidermists to keep him as he was - some taxidermists will often do some cosmetic adjustments and you might get a buffalo trophy you don't recognise!

Buffalo: Shot Placement And Trophy Evaluation by Kevin Robertson is a handy pocket-sized guide on shot placement and trophy evaluation focusing solely on the Cape buffalo.