Buffalo, a hoofed animal native to Africa and Asia. It is closely related to the domestic cattle raised in Europe and America. The name is often, but incorrectly, applied to the American bison. There are several species of true buffalo. Some have been domesticated. Others, such as the African buffalo, are dangerous wild animals. Like other cattle, buffalo eat plants.
The water buffalo, or Asian buffalo, is a strongly built animal, standing about five feet (1.5 m) high. It has long, flattened horns that curve backwards toward the shoulders. The animal can weigh as much as 2,700 pounds (1,200 kg) and has a body about nine feet (2.7 m) long.
The wild water buffalo is rare, and lives in remote areas of India and Southeast Asia. The domesticated water buffalo is used as a beast of burden in tropical Asia and in parts of Africa and South America. It is used to work rice paddies and other wet places. In some countries, the water buffalo is raised mainly for its milk, which is richer in fat and protein than that of the dairy cow. In the Philippines, a smaller type of water buffalo, called the carabao, is used in the same manner as the common water buffalo.
The African buffalo, or Cape buffalo, is found in swampy areas from South Africa to Ethiopia. It is a large, bluish-black animal with an almost hairless skin. Its short, curved horns are joined at the base, which extends across the entire upper part of the head, forming a sort of shield. Charging African buffalo can kill large animals with their horns. Hunters regard them as among the most dangerous of game.
The water buffalo and carabao are Bubalus bubalis; the African buffalo, Syncerus caffer. They belong to the family Bovidae.