Buffaloes worldwide

  1. The African buffalo or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), is a large African bovine Owing to its unpredictable nature, which makes it highly dangerous to humans, the African buffalo has never been domesticated unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo and large in size then Asian water buffaloes. There are five sub-species of African buffaloes;
  2. Syncerus caffer caffer, also called Cape buffalo, is the largest one, with males weighing up to 910 kg  It is peculiar to South and East Africa. Colour of this subspecies is the darkest, almost black. The Cape buffalo is susceptible to many diseases, including bovine tuberculosis, corridor disease, and foot and mouth disease. Cape buffalo is of Bovidae family. They can defend themselves also against lions. Cape Buffalo live on the open pastures, close to jungle and swampy ground where they can wallow. They can be found in Ethiopia, Somalia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. The gestation period of buffalo is 11 and half months and has first calves at five years, bulls mature at eight years. 
  3. Syncerus Caffer Nanus are also known asforest buffalo is the smallest subspecies; the height at the withers is less than 120 cm and average weight is about 270 kg. Their color is red, with darker patches on the head and shoulders in the ears forming a brush. The dwarf buffalo is common in forest areas of Central and West Africa  This subspecies is so different from the standard model; some researchers consider it still a separate species, S. Nanus. Hybrids between the typical subspecies and dwarf hybrids are not uncommon.
  4. Syncerus Caffer Brachyceros is third subspecies from West Africa also known as Sudanese buffalo, intermediate between those two subspecies.  Its body weight and size are relatively small than those in the South African. Bulls are weighing 600 kg.
  5. Syncerus. Caffer Aequinoctialis is also known as Nile buffalo is confined to the savannas of Central Africa. It is similar to the Cape buffalo, but somewhat smaller, and its color is lighter. This subspecies is sometimes included in the Sudanese buffalo.  The average male body weight is 700Kg. They broadly distributed along the Nile River although not limited to its banks. From Northeastern Congo and Uganda along the Albert Nile Northwards into the southern savannah regions the Sudan and the west parts of Ethiopia.
  6. Syncerus Caffer Mathewsi is also calledmountain buffalo that is not universally recognized. It lives in mountainous areas of East Africa.


The African Buffalo is widely regarded as a very dangerous animal and known as Black death, as it gores and kills over 200 people every year. Buffalo are sometimes reported to kill more people in Africa than any other animal. Buffalo are notorious among big game hunters as very dangerous animals, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.

Cytogenetics of African buffalo

Chromosome numbers of these two subspecies of African buffalo, Syncerus Caffer Caffer (East African) have 52 chromosomes whereas Syncerus Caffer nanus (Dwarf Forest) have 54,

The water buffalo or domestic Asian water buffalo (Bubalus) is a large buffalo found on the Indian subcontinent to Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia, in Sri Lanka and in Borneo. The Asian water buffalo holds the greatest promise and potential for production. The buffalo had been severely neglected until 1974, when the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) first signposted the water buffalo as the most neglected animal. The majority of Asian water buffaloes are two types.

  1. The wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee): These buffaloes are native to Southeast Asia and considered as Endangered since 1986, as the remaining population totals less than 4,000. The population decline of at least 50% over the last 30 years and believed to continue. Most of the global population has been estimated at 91% live in India, mostly in Assam. The wild water buffalo represents most likely the ancestor of the domestic water buffalo. Wild buffaloes are heavier than domestic. Wild water buffalos are presently found  in IndiaNepalBhutanThailand, and Cambodia, with an unconfirmed population in Myanmar.
  2. The water buffalo or domestic Asian water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) is a large buffalo found on the Indian subcontinent to Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia, in Sri Lanka and in Borneo. Water buffaloes were domesticated in India and China some 5000 and 4000 years ago respectively. Two types are recognized, based on phenotypes and behaviour; the river buffalo of the Indian subcontinent and further west to the Balkans and Italy, and the swamp buffalo, found from Assam in the west through Southeast Asia to the Yangtze valley of China in the east. The genetic studies indicate that the swamp water buffalo may have originated in China, while the river water buffalo originated from India. Though, the ancestry of African buffaloes is not clear but they are not close to water buffaloes.  

Swamp buffaloes have a grey skin at birth but become slate blue later. Albinoids are present in some populations. The swamp buffalo has 48 chromosomes; the river buffalo has 50 chromosomes. Swamp buffaloes are mostly available in south east countries. The two types do not readily interbreed, but they may produce fertile offspring. River buffaloes like deep water whereas swamp buffaloes like mudholes. The popular breeds of river buffaloes are as under:

  1. Murrah buffalo is the most important and well-known water buffalo breed in the world. It is one of the best breeds for milk production and found all over Asia, and from Bulgaria to South America. Murrah buffaloes originate in Haryana, and dispersed to the Punjab in India, to the Punjab province of Pakistan, to the Ravi and Sutley valleys in northern Sind, and to Uttar Pradesh
  2. Nili-Ravi buffalo is a milk type of buffalo breed. They are found mainly in Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Multan and Bahawal Nagar districts in Punjab Province of Pakistan.
  3. Jaffarabadi buffaloes are heavy, available in Kutch, Junagarh and Jamnagar districts of Gujarat, India.
  4. Mehsana buffaloes are also belong to Mehsana, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts of Gujarat, India. This is supposed to have been evolved out of crossbreeding between the Surti and the Murrah. 
  5. Nagpuri buffalo’s breeding tract of this breed is Nagpur, Akola and Amrawati districts of Maharashtra.  This is also called as Ellichpuri or Barari. 
  6. Pandharpuri are found in Solapur, Kolhapur and Sangli districts of Maharashtra state of India.
  7. Bhadawari is found in Agra and Etawah districts of Uttar Pradesh and Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh.  The body is of medium size.
  8. Surti  is a popular breed found in the Charottar tract of Gujarat between Mahi and Sabarmati rivers. The best animals of this breed are found in Anand, Nadiad and Baroda districts of Gujarat. 
  9. Toda belong to Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu, India
  10. Banni buffalo is a naive of Sindh Pakistan 
  11. Chilika belong to Orissa, India

Besides, there are so many local breeds also available in our countries.  Of all the domestic animals, the Asian water buffalo holds the greatest promise and potential for production.

For more information please read following article: Patel, R. K. (2013). Buffaloes worldwide. Blue Cross Book. 29: 90-94.