Browsing Buffalo

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 1 Comment

Buffalo are classified as grass and roughage feeders.  Their digestive system, which allows them to digest fibrous foods more effectively than other ruminants, makes them less partial to fresh green grass.

In the dry season Buffalo are non-selective feeders and will feed on almost any type of grass they can find and they will range over wide areas looking for food and water.  This behaviour, during the dry season, will often take them into areas with less cover which makes interaction with predators, like lions, more likely but that’s a discussion for another time.

During my recent private guided safari we visited Madikwe, Londolozi and South Luangwa and it was dry – very dry – everywhere and the lack of grazing was quite evident.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Private Guide

Londolozi – 10 October 2016

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Private Guide

South Luangwa – 19 October 2016

The condition of the Buffalo in all the parks we visited was pretty bad and you could see that the entire ecosystem was desperate for the rains to bring new life.

Now I truly believe – and this goes for both the photography side of thing as well bush knowledge and guiding – that the more you know the better it gets.  In Londolozi we saw a small group of Buffalo feeding on a pile of dried Mopane leaves which is something that a lot of people would not have even picked up on.  The more you know the better it gets.

Then on a morning drive in South Luangwa, we saw a few Buffalo, which as you know are grazing animals, browsing and feeding on the leaves of trees.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Private Guide

Apart from it looking quite awkward and uncomfortable this rather unusual behavior and made for some good, solid photography.  Not hero shots, just good solid photography which if we’re honest with each other, is what we create 90% of the time but the understanding of the actual content makes it so much better.

So, sticking to the theme of the more you know the better it gets, here are a few other terms related to this post:

  • Browser: An animal that feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high-growing, generally woody, plants such as shrubs.
  • Grazer: An animals that feeds on grass or other low vegetation.
  • Graminivorous:  An animals which subsists on grasses.
  • Ruminant:  A mammal that chews the cud regurgitated from its rumen.  (Such as Buffalo, Giraffe and Wildebeest)
  • Hindgut Fermenter:  An animals that digests it’s food in a simple, single-chambered stomach. (Such as Zebra and Rhino)

It’s a tough time for some of the animals and the rains are coming soon which will bring some much needed relief to the plains of Africa but until then keep your eyes open for unusual feeding behaviour if you find yourself out in the bush.

The more you know the better it gets.

Until next time.


About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at or follow my journey on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter a look forward to changing the way you see the world.  I also host a Wildlife Photography Podcast and I Vlog!

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