Approximate weight, ♂
Good average horns......
39m. outside spread.
This is one of the finest game animals in the world, and a bull buffalo not only gives the best of sport, but he also grows one of the finest trophies a sportsman can procure in Africa. Buffalo are usually found in herds of from six to thirty animals, although at times many small herds collect, and form a large herd of two to three hundred. When shooting buffalo, great care should be taken over the first shot, for if he is only slightly wounded it is often dangerous work following him, as the buffalo, like all wounded animals, seeks the thickest cover he can find.
Although there is little difficulty in killing buffaloes with small or medium bore rifles, a heavy rifle—such as a .450 or .470 cordite—would be better to stop a charge. The buffalo is the most difficult beast to stop, once he means business, and, unlike an elephant or rhino, a badly placed shot will not often turn him. I have found that a buffalo's heart lies lower in the body than any other animal's, in fact it is right against the lower cavity of the chest; so a bullet placed half way up the shoulder would not strike the heart, although it would be likely to cut the big arteries leading into that organ. The lungs are high, but slightly farther back, and this shot is a most deadly one for all game. A large bull is much heavier than a cow, and although he does not stand as high on his legs as a bull eland, he is much broader in the chest and body, but less in the neck measur-ment. There are still plenty of buffallo left in this country, and they are very abundant in the Chiromo Marsh near Chiromo, and also in parts of Central Angoniland. In North-Eastern Rhodesia they are also common in the Luangwa Valley, and in the country between it and Lake Bangweolo.
Buffaloes usually like wild country with open dambos and plenty of thick bush to lie up in, and they are fond of eating the fresh leaves of bamboos, as, also, are elephants. As I have related, buffaloes give exciting sport when they have to be followed wounded into thick cover, and so I recommend a heavy bore for this work unless a man is a cool, good shot and is experienced. One should never go blundering into thick cover after a wounded buffalo, and the best thing to do is to wait for a short time, and then go very slowly as one has to trust to one's ears as much as to one's eyes. Also, it is a great mistake to be heavily clad, for the lighter one is, the quicker he can move, and heavy boots, leggings, and coats are not wanted at this work.
A buffalo's speed is astonishing considering his bulk, and it is quite impossible to judge pace by watching retreating animals at a distance. Once a buffalo gets hold of a man he is usually marked for life, if he has not the misfortune (or perhaps the fortune) to be killed at once. It is almost impossible to brain an oncoming buffalo, so his chest is the only mark to shoot at ; and buffaloes have been known to be hit in the heart and yet have enough tenacity of life to travel a long way before dropping. Again, I may mention that a buffalo moves with his head up and nose straight out, and only dips his horns when within striking distance, and then the thing he strikes is usually deeply marked, for they are possessed of tremendous strength in their necks.
Buffaloes drink every day and they love to wallow in mud and water, so they often present a reddish colour. I once saw three buffaloes almost white, as they had been wallowing in some slaty white soil.
The cows have poor trophies compared to the bulls, and they are not nearly so difficult to kill, and the same applies to cow elephants. Buffaloes wander a good deal, and personally 1 have found that they take longer to get up to than is usually the case with elephants.
If much harried they become most wary, and travel along distance before stopping to rest, and the old solitary bulls do this more than herds. However, a single bull is much easier to approach closely than a herd, as he is often dull of sight and hearing. In a herd comprising many younger animals there are always plenty of eyes and ears on the alert for danger. Herd animals never travel so far as single animals, for the cows and young animals make the herd lag and lie up quicker.
Young buffaloes are of a brownish colour, and when old become a slaty black, while some of the older animals may be almost hairless on their bodies. Their hoofs are nice trophies when mounted, and the tails of all game are interesting trophies ; but, of course, the head is the chief prize, and, as I have said, it is, perhaps, the finest African trophy a man can shoot. An old bull's horns almost join on the frontlet, are usually worn down and much gnarled, and sometimes cracked in places; but all this enhances their value in the sportsman's eyes.
Chinyanja - Nchefu.
Chingoni - Mpofu.
Good average horns,
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A big eland bull is a grand animal, and the humane-minded hunter will seldom kill one without regret, for he is a harmless, inoffensive animal, which never tries to resent an injury. Certainly there is very little satisfaction in shooting such animals, and, after doing so, a man never has that exhilarating feeling which comes over him after killing an elephant or buffalo. A few people are very fond of shooting antelopes, but leave the dangerous game alone; in my opinion, there is nothing great in killing non-dangerous game, as it simply needs a little exercise to find it and some skill with the rifle to kill it.
An old bull eland's most noticeable features are his great bulk and weight, the tuft of long hair on his forehead, and his blue appearance, for he is often nearly hairless, although he never becomes wholly so. He evidently rubs most of his hair off, and he certainly treats his horns roughly, as they get worn down to a remarkable degree. No old bull has ever very long horns, and, if they are much over 27m., he cannot be very old.