The Cape Buffalo may not be the fastest or most majestic of the Big 5 animals, but it made the club for a reason. Hopefully, you’ll soon find yourself siding favorably with these big guys, despite their occasional hotheadedness.

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One of the reasons a buffalo may not catch your eye or ear could be the somewhat unappealing sounds they make. Most of these resemble grunts and mumbles with the occasion gargle. Delightful sounding isn’t it?

But these buffalo sounds, once better deciphered, will all serve to convince you that the buffalo is, in fact, a remarkable and underrated animal. In fact, a mere change in pitch and volume affects what they’re communicating.

So when planning your safari to Africa, you can now come well-prepared with all you need to know about Buffalo.

Bison and Buffalo – A Myth Debunked

This post will not be covering what sound a bison makes.

It is a common misconception that bison are the “American version “ of African (Cape) buffalo. While they are both horned, ox-like animals, there are a couple of indications to look out for when telling them apart.

First off, bison are found in North America and parts of Europe while The Cape buffalo live in Africa. A telltale difference is the large hump of muscle at the shoulders of the bison – not present on the buffalo.

These American, bull-like mammals also have much shorter, sharper horns compared to the long, thick horns of buffalo. And if all else fails, just try to spot the hipster with the beard – it’ll be the bison.

A Closer Look at Buffalo Sounds and What They Mean


It’s safe to say these large mammals can be temperamental – but some may choose to call this passionate.

These family-orientated beasts are mostly misunderstood, and simply a little unphotogenic. So next time you are on safari in Africa and spot a buffalo, keep a respectable distance but be sure to admire them in all their heft and horned-glory.

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While no one can claim to be fluent in buffalo, as of yet, it is safe to conclude that loud, short sounds are intended as a power move. When you hear quiet, longer mumbles you can interpret them as being friendly.