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Forest Buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Forest Buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus)


  • Grasses and sedges form the bulk of the diet, but the leaves and shoots of other plants (e.g., shrubs, trees, and herbs) are also eaten. Diet may be determined solely by availability; however, when a choice exists, plants high in protein and carbohydrates may be selected to maximize nutrient intake.
  • The major elements aluminum and iron may be the main chemical stimuli for soil-eating behavior.


  • Buffalo are classified as bulk and roughage eaters that are dependent on water.
  • Less prone to selective overgrazing than wildebeest and zebra and less destructive and more economical than most other grazers in utilizing available food, including old grass.
  • During their nomadic foraging routines, they range up to 18 km from their watering places, which they visit at least once (and often twice) a day. Buffalo cannot tolerate water restriction for very long during hot temperatures. Adults need up to 39-55 liters/day. Water consumption may be 30-40 liters/day; the rest is obtained via food and metabolism.
  • As is typical of grass-eating species, the ruminant stomach is highly-differentiated and subdivided in order to utilize bulky food rich in cellulose. Rumen compartments hold ingested food for microbial cellulolysis.
  • Daily food intake (dry forage) averages 6.1-17.5 kg.

Page Citations

Haltenorth & Diller (1980)
Happold (1987)
Hofmann (1973)
Kingdon (1997)
Mahaney & Hancock (1990)
Mloszewski (1983)
Pienaar (1969)
Prins (1996)
Sinclair (1977)
Smithers (1983)

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