A feeding herd of buffalo, and a lone old bull wallowing in the mud

One of the most pleasant sounds to fall asleep to is likely the calm, docile atmosphere of a herd of buffalo feeding on grass. They peacefully shuffle across the field, heads down in an almost non stop chewing motion, occasionally grunting and mooing at each other when visibility in the bush is too dense to keep contact by eyesight. Big, deep sniffs and exhales give a sense of the size of each individual animal, and convey the apparent pleasure that is had during the feeding bonanza. Buffalo herds tend to move around their homerange in circles, depending of the size of the habitat, feeding most of the time and stopping about twice a day to lie down for a session of ruminating and sleeping. As ruminants, buffalo burp, and not fart – for the best fart sounds in the bush, you will never be let down by the elephants.

The recording above is a compilation of a feeding herd of buffalo slowly making its way to and past the mics. As the entire duration of them approaching and passing my equipment lasted over thirty minutes, I have compiled some snippets to give a general overview of the event.

While buffalo are regarded as dangerous, there is relatively not much danger from a herd – the protection that they enjoy from being with a large number of their own species is generally attributed to this. The danger tends to come more from the old stragglers, known as daggaboys – lone, male buffalo that are not capable of keeping up with the pace of the herd any longer. It is also believed that they are generally just a bit tired and fed up with life, women and children, and thus prefer the company of their lonesome selves.

Daggaboy buffalo are some of the most dangerous big mammals in the African bush for the simple fact that they play no games, give no warnings, and don’t tolerate humans getting close. They are known to hide in the bush when they see a human approaching on foot, only to ambush them out of nowhere when they haplessly pass by, often resulting to the death of or severe injuries on the part of the human. In that sense it is also wise to be on your guard when there is a herd around, because a straggling daggaboy might have taken offence with your presence and has unbeknownst to you circled you to attack you from behind.

That all being said, the recording above displays a daggaboy in a perhaps rare state of enjoyment, taking a mud bath at approximately 3am during a recording session with my mics set up on the perimeter of a sodic site – a sandy patch of soil full of nutrients often visited by big African mammals. Mud baths are taken for various reasons, one of which being to rub off parasites such as ticks, a job also performed by oxpecker birds feeding off the back of infested mammals.

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