CAPE BUFFALO AND THE BIG FIVE

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THE TROPHY CAPE BUFFALO

HUNTED FOR SPORT AND RECOGNITION BY HUNTERS     
THE AFRICAN CAPE BUFFALO  🐃 is on the top five list as a prize trophy.  Hunters spent thousands of dollars in Africa to hunt the ‘Big Five of Africa’ as they are known.  Now four of the five are protected and permitted.   And photographic hunts are out distancing shooting hunts except by poachers.

The five Most Dangerous Species as they are known by, are the  African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros, Cape Buffalo, African Lion,  and the African Leopard.  The Cape  Buffalo is not on the endangered list.

But as we have seen many times before things change and the main predator on the planet is still man and when he’s not destroying animals, he is one of the few species that kills wildlife for sport and food, and a few demented individuals who would murder their own kind for sport or gain.  

Thus I have expanded this section including the animals that most of the time are harmonious with the Buffalo, in the hopes many will trade their killing tools for preservation tools.


PHOTOGRAPHY IS PLAYING AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN
THE PRESERVATION OF ALL OF THESE SPECIES

“SHOOT ANIMALS WITH CAMERAS,  SHOOT POACHERS WITH BULLETS



THE MAGNIFICENT CAPE BUFFALO



HUNTING THE BUFFALO
My uncle H. Katz was a recognized world class hunter, and he had the financial means to support a very expensive hobby.  He made many journeys in the sixties and seventies to Africa, the Orient.  He was an importer of goods from clothing to hardware and welcomed in many place willing to sell to the US.   Additional information furnished by Thomson Safaris and Wikipedia.

His house was a miniature of the Natural History Museum of NYC, mammals of the world. In fact, the trophies were curated and properly displayed by the same companies, professionals and employees that did the museum work for his donations.  He had quite an impressive collection.  

His Cape Buffalo was from my memory massive.  About five to six feet across in a massive head and the curved portion tips were about three and half feet tip to tip, when I stretched my arms out.  Not something I would like to casually meet on a trail.

I used to ask him about these hunts, he was a very patient and specific teacher.  He explained how they differed because they (the animals) were so diversified, he had a way of  bringing the hunting experience to life.  I learned from him a lot about culling herds, livestock management, and he was very selective and knowledgeable on the subject.  And he taught me about the Big Five as they are known...

THE CAPE BUFFALO - FROM MY UNCLE HY and THOMSON SAFARI’S
They isolated the bull hanging on my uncles wall, the herd was spread out feeding, and the guide gave the go.  As soon as my Uncle put a bullet into the bull they were stalking, the bull froze and starred at them.  The others took off, I think any thing else on this planet would have fell dead from that large round. 

He was still standing from a round that came from a bolt action, it could have been a Remington, Ruger, Winchester, maybe a Rigby in Mauser action. I don’t remember what he told me,  but it was the right choice on a tough animal because of rules the guides follow.

The professional guide, stepped in front of my uncle, with a double, which looks identical to a double barrel shotgun except the barrels are three time thicker.  Something called experience told him to,  and he told my uncle put a second one in, he put a second into the bull.  It went down first on front legs.  

It was a good trophy and there were many in the group, my cousins, and the guide taking no chances, these animals are resilient.   The guide approached first and took no chances.  The bull dropped completely from the third round from the guide.  I only saw the head on the wall and the pictures of the animal were massive.

The meat and remains, a little went to the camp, about 120 lbs, as there is a lot of meat on 2000 plus pounds and the balance was quickly removed to the local village where all of the internals get used for something.  Nothing gets wasted.  That evening the locals did a dance and thanks to the hunter and guide for the gift of food.

I had even asked him, even though I had held some of his rifles,a couple very heavy, weighing ten pounds.  The bullets were huge.  The weight aiding the horrendous kickback or recoil-reduction.  Which didn’t help my cousin.

My cousin Steven at thirteen as a gift on his Bar Mitzvah went with Dad to Africa and got to shoot a real big trophy elephant with the big gun (The 458 or the 500 Nitro) and I seem to remember that the shot broke his shoulder or collarbone    But he got the trophy elephant bull and some great stories to tell.

On the ground the Cape Buffalo is quite an advisary.  My uncle told me thats the only one who will backtrack, and lay in wait to ambush you.  A wounded Cape Buffalo is an extremely dangerous animal because of his smarts and singular efforts.  Most animals if wounded flee, he’s looking for a fight and revenge, it’s their nature, comes from the rut and breeding season mentality.  

More so since he won’t back down or flee and he will circle and trap you.  The thick bush and brush hides them well for an ambush and they use it.   Many hunters and experts believe a wounded buffalo is about as dangerous as you can get and responsible for many injuries and deaths.   Though there are no hard-and-fast facts on the matter, some claim that the African buffalo is the most dangerous animal to man in Africa, even more so than the hippopotamus.

Unique, animal characteristics for a herd animal and if you watch the animal channels or nature shows, you will see when attacked by lions, the buffalos will come to the aid of each other.  They will form rings around the females and the calves.  And it takes four sometimes five or six lions to bring a large 2200 pound buffalo down.  

Just when you think he’s done, here comes the infantry, his fellow brothers in horns and you might see a lion or two thrown into the air, some mortally, by those horns and a skull that can crush almost anything that gets in it’s way.


THE BIG FIVE

ELEPHANTS - They’re not only the largest animal you’ll spot on safari, elephants are likely one of the smartest. Scientists have observed complex familial relationships between elephant families, and they seem to show empathy, self-awareness  famously long memories, mourn relatives who die, visiting their gravesite regularly over the years, and showing special interest in elephant bones, even if they didn’t know the animal. 

This was before Internet days and he knew all about it first hand.  If it wasn’t a trophy, as the larger Elephant bulls are, only a few ever get to mate and during a period called the rut, showing musth,  the rest spend their time fighting with each other since the door to procreation last only a short while.   Days sometimes...  

So there has to be somewhat of a culling limited to mad bulls and mad men.  They become very dangerous at this time.  If it could help the locals for food, he was there.  Some safaris, he helped feed a tribe. He got lucky on some, some empty handed.   Thats why it’s called hunting, not slaughtering.

Uncle Hy told me the Elephant will make noise, postulate, do a bluff charge, back off, and he might really charge, he’s like a kid testing his boundaries... and if you watch his ears and his head position he gives you a clue.  To survive your best bet is, stand  still, hold your ground or back off slowly.  They move a lot faster than you can.  And trees don’t usually stop them. 
 

NEVER GO NEAR A FEMALE WITH CALF 
Photo credit: The incident played out at the Maasai Marai reserve in Kenya and was captured by amateur photographer, Kimberly Maurer, 56, who was on holiday at the reserve. 


And you had better exhibit most caution during the RUT when females estrus cycle begins and the males get drunk on love portion number nine.  

MUSTH OR MUST 
DEFINITION -  is a periodic condition in bull (male) elephants, characterized by highly aggressive behavior and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones. 

Testosterone levels in an elephant in musth can be as much as 6 times greater than in the same elephant at other times. 

However, whether this hormonal surge is the sole cause of musth, or merely a contributing factor, is unknown.  Since no one in their right mind wants to interview a rogue elephant during this period of time.

Scientific investigation of musth is problematic because even the most placid elephants become highly violent toward humans and other elephants during musth and not a good place to be when they go off their rocker.   One keeper was killed right here in Tampa by a bull who smashed his way thru a steel door that wasn’t secured and crushed and trampled the keeper.

THE RHINO - Cares less about whether you are on foot or on top of a Jeep.  Avoid him and his “ pecking distance ”    Thats a phrase used when birds are roosting and you’ll see them on power lines evenly spaced apart.  Get too close and they peck the intruder bird.  For the Rhino whose vision it’s a comfort zone.

He’ll charge and many have gotten hurt when the Jeep or Rover flips or you get knocked off.  Once they go into charge mode there is no stopping them and the 416 Rigby is the smallest round in this case or a fast Land Rover on flat land.

Massive, solitary, and horned, a black rhinoceros wandering the African plains looks almost prehistoric.  He took his Rhino from fifty yards and fifty years ago.  Now only cameras are acceptable.

Their horns, made of keratin protein such as that found in fingernails and hair, fetch high prices on the black market, the Chinese believing a powder from the horn gives great strength and virilness, only a handful of black rhinos remain in the wild. Since they were slaughtered for their horn to make men virile from the powder, I suggested poachers should be castrated for their act...only fair?

Beautiful animals poached for their horns.  In the preserves the horns are cut off to save the animals lives. Due to their low numbers and poaching, Rhinos get great clearance and rarely attack unless provoked.  Recently in January our Busch Gardens, part of a national program welcomed Winifred, a bouncing 140 pound baby girl.  Mom and Winifred are doing fine.

African Wildlife Foundation is working with other conservation organizations and governments to spread public awareness about the illegal rhino horn trade, the horrors of poaching, and dwindling rhino populations. For example, we launched a campaign with WildAid in 2012 featuring former NBA star Yao Ming and targeting Chinese audiences to bring attention to the atrocities of rhino poaching and dispel myths about rhino horn. You can also help spread the word.




THE LIONS -  They are the apex predator on land, a lion does exactly what your housecoat does sleep about 14 hours or more a day. Tanzania, which is home to over 15,000 lions, about half the remaining of the wild population.  The Lions are family oriented, the females do the hunting and the males do the protection and propagating. Buffalo are a favored food of the Lions who also take Zebra and smaller Gazelles.

They rest during the heat of the day then form coordinated hunting packs. Females with cubs are more elusive and if you happen to  get in their way, if you surprise them or come upon one you’ll see how fast they are, generally they’ll walk off and avoid you, but not a rule, mothers will be mothers and relentless.  

The hunter with permit usually goes after rogue males those not with a harem and pushed out of the pride.  They will hunt during the day as they are twice the size of most females weighing 500 plus ponds.  These younger rogues can be dangerous and sometimes form small groups and hunt together.  Even people...


THE MOST FAMOUS WERE THE TSAVO MAN-EATERS - They were a pair of man-eating East African lions from the Tsavo region, which were responsible for the deaths of a number of construction workers on the Kenya-Uganda Railway from March through December 1898. 

The significance of this pair of lions was their unusual behavior, such as the number of men killed and the manner of the attacks.  They were young males, displaced from the females and cubs, not matured as yet, no manes and became rogues.  

As the males grow into maturity and “ fighting weight and size”, they will then try to take over a harem by defeating the alpha dominant male and running him off or killing him.  They might at that point kill all the cubs to bring the females into estrus and start the clan over.  Many younger males lose in these battles, badly.  Alpha male lions are pretty good fighters.


IN MEMORY OF MAX
His name was Max and he was the predominant male in Busch Gardens and lived for estimated fifteen years and every Photo Safari I took and led to Busch Gardens teaching photography close to a decade always included MAX and the Tigers.  

CAUSE OF DEATH:   LIVER FAILURE
BIOGRAPHY:
Max lived with a private owner who kept him as a pet for nine years. In 1997, he was transferred to Busch Gardens Africa for the opening of the Edge of Africa.  If he was nine at his transfer and lived another decade, that might be a record for lions unless the math is incorrect.

Max was the oldest male lion at the park and spent his time with Kia, an older female.The pair rotated between two exhibits with the Spotted Hyenas. They rotated time spent in the exhibit with the younger pride of lions, SimonRose, and Iris

The two spend most of their time in their night quarters, as the keepers spare the older pride from the heat. They were often put on exhibit in the late afternoon, once the day has begun to cool off. Max was unable to breed due to a vasectomy. He has far outlived the life expectancy for wild lions, and had begun to turn blind. 


TRAGEDY  OCCURRED
On May 12, 2002, a zookeeper, Amanda Bourassa, was taking her family on a behind the scenes tour when Max pulled her arm through the cage and severed it at the elbow.  Bourassa and three other keepers were performing a routine training exercise where the lion laid down in a cage with his tail between the bars to allow blood to be drawn. Max has a chronic liver condition and needs frequent blood tests, and this exercise was designed to allow the keepers to safely take samples. 

Obviously the process was not totally safe.

Even though no blood was being taken that day, keepers ran through the routine as part of training and Bourassa fed the lion meat through the bars.  Although Max showed no signs of agitation and had been through this routine several times, he suddenly grabbed the keeper’s arm and pulled it through the cage. 

Doctors were unable to reattach the arm. Behind-the-scenes tours were suspended for that day and Max was not put on exhibit. Park executives declared that Max, then 12 years old, would not be put down and that park safety policy would be reviewed. 

The reason for the accident was unknown, since Max had been touched by his trainers and responded to his name before, and had received the treatment since arriving at the park in 1997.
In September of 2008, Max's liver finally failed him, and he passed away.

 

THE LEOPARDS -  Nocturnal, stealthy, and wary of humans, leopards are an elusive animal, making a sighting a rare treat for any safari-goer. The smallest of the big cats, leopards are mostly solitary creatures, and are likely to flee at the first sign of perceived danger.  Leopards are most active at night, which means most safari-goers will spot them resting during the day among the branches of the trees they use as a home base. The treetops aren’t just a leopard’s bed, they’re often also its kitchen; leopards regularly drag their kills up into the branches to keep scavengers and other predators from snatching them away.

The LEOPARD (Panthera padres) is one of the five species in the genus Panthera, a member of the Felidae.   The leopard occurs in a wide range in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia and is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because leopard populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and are declining in large parts of the global range.

In Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait, Syria, Libya, Tunisia and most likely in Morocco, leopard populations have already been locally exterminated.  Contemporary records suggest that the leopard occurs in only 25% of its historical global range.  Leopards are hunted illegally, and their body parts are smuggled in the wildlife trade for medicinal practices and decoration.



TOOLS OF THE HUNTING TRADE   

ONLY With guide, permits, and GOV. approved culling 

•  The most popular Afrikaner rounds would be .375 H&H, the .416 Rigby is most popular for Cape Buffalo.

•  Since 1902, the 458 LOTT preferred by guides as the shorter range blockbuster back up weapon in a doubles rifle if a charging buffalo is missed by the .416 Rigby.

•  The .416, RIGBY as the all around with 100 years of experience and enough bullet weight and charges to suit anything. The superbly crafted RIGBY in Mauser action, is the creme de la creme.  

•  And there are no limits in expensive models.  Weatherby is popular in the states but not in Africa for some reason.  Some of the doubles guns can run 40,000 to 100,000 dollars.  Some even more.  They are works of art and usually seen on walls or in cases on display.

• The shippers and airlines are not well known for taking care of your 100,000 dollar wall hanger.  A CZ550 in 416 Rigby is the logical choice for the hunter as long as it is approved by permit, guide, and all rules and regulations followed to the letter. 

•  Recently I saw a video of the .700 Nitro Express being fired which is used when hunting Godzilla or Mothra.   This what the average individual would wind up getting to meet his Orthopedic Surgeon after being declared nuts by his Psychiatrist.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsTKFnThh6Q

•  More reasonable might be the Krieghoff African BIG FIVE in II grade shown above at a starting price of 17,500 dollars.


BEST PRICE FOR THE BUCK
The budget gun for Africa would be the CZ550.  The .375 H&H is the minimum round for use in South Africa Dangerous big game and I really prefer you use a Nikon, SONY or Canon. 1500 to 3500 dollars US and a wise choice in .375 H&H or the .416 Rigby. It’s a complete package able to work with scope or iron sights. 

CZ the MANUFACTURER
Built on our 550 Magnum action, the American Safari Magnum is intended for use with magnified optics, but with backup irons in place were that optic to be removed. Its American-styled stock has a high, flat comb for this purpose, better sight picture, while its round front end won’t snag on brush and limbs. QD sling studs are mounted into the stock, and a thick rubber butt pad helps tame recoil.

Features include 3-leaf express sights (1 standing, 2 folding), hammer forged barrel and single set trigger. Mauser-style controlled round feed and fixed ejector make this rifle reliable for high-stress situations with heavy and dangerous game.
Suggestion: Ready to go, and small things like 
ultra polish the rails, for a smooth feed, ( don’t over do it,  polish does not mean grind, and means 600 grit lapping compound and a fine cleaning ) and a dozen rounds at the range should build confidence.


UKUZINGELA KWE-AFRIKA
In  Zulu, ukuzingela kwe-Afrikatranslates as the spirit of African Hunting”.  The African Cape buffalo weighing over a ton,  four times the weight of a male fully grown lion, needs the large big-game bullet as whats needed to do the job.  

Simple rules, for the hunters,  too high a frontal shot is not a good option, with the mass of the head, a small brain, and serious HD cranial and horn structure might not consecrate a clean kill.  The  buffalo’s extremely thick skull with curving horns completely cover the top of the animal’s head, forming a near-impenetrable bone shield that can even deflect bullets. 

You really do not wish to tick them off.   This is not 30-06 land, this is .375 minimum, preferably 416 Rigby land max loads. There are probably another fifty suitable bullets and loads but these are the most popular and available.

With no Cabelas or Bass pro Shops on any corners, its best to use what the others use since running out of two dollar a shot bullets and you are the only one in Africa that day shooting the  “Alfred E.Newman .438 Hand Loaded Modified Round” is not a smart move.

Because of this, and the buffalo’s large size (males can weigh up to 2,000 pounds), most predators won’t attempt to take down an adult African buffalo alone.  Occasionally a lion pack will go after a calf or old weaker female or disabled male,  but thats what nature according to Darwin is all about. Survival of the Fittest.

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