Out in the African savanna, from where all the world’s cattle came originally, roam vast herds of wild buffalo. Sadly now, most are corralled for their protection in national parks, depredated by poachers and psychopathic trophy hunters, but that’s another story.
People should be wary of these mighty beasts: just like domestic cattle in our fields, they are exceptionally canny creatures, they watch and remember. Hunter turned conservationist Lindsay Hunt says touchingly of the Cape Buffalo, ‘they have exceptional memories. I have often been approached by buffalo that I have not seen for many years, which are tactile and demand affection.’
Female buffalos are social animals, bonded like close sisters, fiercely protective of each other and their young. Nor do they shrink from a fight: armed with formidable horns and neck hide several centimeters thick, they are magnificently fearless, and will drive off a pride of marauding lions with ease.
Satisfyingly perhaps, they can also exact a terrible revenge on their main foe: humankind. More people are killed in Africa, by buffalo than any other animal, barring human beings that is. They have great skill in seeking out hunters in particular, even stealthily setting out to ambush them. It is said that they can recognise and attack a person who had injured them, even years later.
Be kind to buffalo, as with most creatures, and they will repay you with trust and respect. But do not expect to hurt or molest one and imagine that being stupid or brutish, you will ever be safe in its company. As far as gun-toting macho men are concerned, buffalos never forget, nor do they forgive.