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Forest Buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Forest Buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus)

Forest Buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus) Fact Sheet

Forest Buffalo

Forest Buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia - mammals

Order: Artiodactyla - even-toed hoofed animals (includes pigs, sheep goats, cattle, deer)

Family: Bovidae - antelopes, cattle, goats, sheep, bovids

Genus: Syncerus

Species: Syncerus caffer - African buffalo, Cape buffalo

Subspecies: Syncerus caffer nanus - forest buffalo

265-320 kg (584-705 lb)

Head-body Length
180-220 cm (71-87 in)

Shoulder Height
100-130 cm (39-51 in)

Horn width
34-72 cm (13-28 in)

Red-brown to brown. Undersides being more pale. Short mane.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Rainforest best of Central and Western Africa.

Prefer savannas interspersed with patches of forest, reeds, or scrub.

IUCN Status
Species-level (African buffalo): Near Threatened (2018 assessment) (IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2019)

CITES Appendix
Not listed (as of Jun 2019) (UNEP 2019)

Population in Wild
Few estimates available. One rough estimate of 56,000 (2018), but unknown how many live in Central Africa.

Can run for bursts of speed (e.g., to outrun lions), but are not endurance runners.

Activity Cycle
Not well understood for forest buffalo.

Social Groups
Herds of small groups; some fluidity in group membership. Gregarious. Non-territorial.

Grasses, sedges, leaves, shoots

Lions, spotted hyenas, lions, humans.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity
Not reported for this subspecies. Perhaps similar to other African buffalo subspecies.

300-346 days

Litter Size
Usually one; occasionally two

Interbirth Interval
15-36 months

Birth Weight
40-53 kg (88-117 lb) at one month old

Age at Weaning
4-6 months; suckling may last until 18 months in some populations

Typical Life Expectancy
Wild populations: not reported
Managed care: no AZA estimates

Feature Facts

  • Much smaller body compared to other African buffalo subspecies
  • Variety of coloration and horn widths
  • Thick skin to help with thermoregulation
  • Mud wallowing has self-care as well as social importance
  • Use dominance/threat displays to avoid fights
  • Vulnerable to habitat loss, hunting, disease, and drought
  • This subspecies has a disjunct distribution: one area in the forest belt of West Africa and another in Lower Guinea Forest and Congo Basin

About This Fact Sheet

© 1999-2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Minor updates 2017. IUCN Status and population estimates updated Apr 2019.


How to cite: Forest Buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus) Fact Sheet. c1999-2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. forestbuffalo
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Sep 10)


Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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