Cape Buffalo Hunting in South Africa

The Cape or African Buffalo trophy is the most popular dangerous game hunt on an African hunting safari. Cape Buffalo kills more hunters than any other animal in Africa. Cape Buffalo are hunted on fenced farms in South Africa.

There are no seasonal restrictions on a Cape Buffalo trophy in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Nick Bowker Hunting offers Cape Buffalo African hunts year-round.

Shot placement should be on the bottom third of the shoulder.
Shot placement for African Buffalo hunting

Table of Contents

  1. Cape Buffalo Hunting Cost
  2. Interesting Facts about Cape Buffalo
  3. Difference between Male and Female
  4. About Cape Buffalo
  5. Cape Buffalo Hunting in the Eastern Cape
  6. Trophy Judgement and Rifle Calibre
Cape Buffalo hunting with Nick Bowker.

Cape Buffalo Hunting Cost

A Cape Buffalo will cost between $9000 and $11000. Cape Buffalo can be added to any of our hunt packages. We offer affordable Cape Buffalo hunting packages.

Included in the Cape Buffalo trophy hunting package is a licensed hunting guide. As well as a hunting license and all permits.

Cape Buffalo in Pictures

Cape Buffalo and other sub species
Cape Buffalo growth chart to adulthood
Cape Buffalo distribution across southern Africa
Cape Buffalo predators include mostly lion
Cape Buffalo are considered dangerous game and are part of the big 5
Buffalo need to drink daily
Cape Buffalo breeding habits
Cape Buffalo herd behaviour.
Cape Buffalo shot placement
Cape Buffalo shot placement

Interesting facts about the Cape Buffalo

South African cape buffalo safari
  • Cape Buffalo hunting results in the death of more hunters than any other species. Also, buffalo are no slouches and can reach 56 KPH; that’s 15.6 meters per second.
  • Herd mentality is very strong; sometimes, it will force a mother to abandon her calf.
  • Buffalo movement is determined by “pathfinders.” Despite this critical role, these animals do not have to be high-ranking.
  • Rinderpest, a disease in the 1890s, nearly wiped out the buffalo; estimates say that for every buffalo that lived, 10,000 died.
  • Buffalo eat a large quantity of coarse material, and they need to drink regularly, up to twice a day, managing as much as 34 liters in just 6 minutes.
  • Buffalo kill lions, and if lions attack a herd of buffalo, they do so at significant risk as buffalo often retaliate with a mobbing attack.
Cape Buffalo trophy shot with Nick Bowker hunting
Trophy shot in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
  • Older buffalo bulls will choose to drop out of the herd and wander alone or in small groups.
  • Groups of older males are called “dagga-boys,” which refers to the Zulu word for mud, given their preference for wallowing.
  • African Buffalo have poor eyesight and hearing but an incredible sense of smell.
  • Cape Buffalo hide is as thick as two inches in certain parts.
  • The Cape Buffalo is the largest subspecies in South and East Africa.
  • Cape Buffalo are truly good swimmers.
  • The African or Cape buffalo is not related to the water buffalo of Asia.
  • Cape Buffalo should be a must for all hunters; however, they are more expensive than other plains game.
Cape Buffalo trophy hunting in South Africa

The difference between a male and female Cape Buffalo

The Cape Buffalo bull has a colossal lump or boss. Also, males are larger and will have thicker necks than females. In contrast, the female’s horns will have a gentle slope without the boss or helmet.

Old Buffalo Bull. Note the large hard boss.
Cape Buffalo male or bull
Buffalo female in the open grasslands.
Cape Buffalo female or cow

About the African Buffalo

Cape buffalo hunting safari.

Their habitat includes mixed scrub woodlands. They will occasionally venture onto plains only if there is a large abundance of bushes but typically avoid such open areas to avoid becoming an easy target for their predators.

One of the “big five” African game, it is known as “the Black Death” or “Widow Maker” and is widely regarded as a dangerous animal.

According to some estimates, it gores and kills over 200 people yearly.

Buffalo kills more people in Africa than any other animal. However, hippos and crocodiles have the same claim.

Buffaloes are notorious among big-game hunters as dangerous animals, with wounded animals ambushing and attacking pursuers.

African Buffaloes weigh 1,100 to 2,200 lb, with males typically larger than females, reaching the upper weight range.

The horns form entirely when the animal reaches five or six years, but the bosses do not become “hard” till 8 to 9 years old.

In cows, the horns are smaller and do not have a boss.

African Buffalo are frequently preyed upon by lions. As a result, African Buffalo are known to rush to defend another herd member if a predator attacks it.

In a large group, they can also ward off the pride of preying lions.

The Cape Buffalo has many similar characteristics to the Blue Wildebeest but a very different hunt!

Cape Buffalo trophy shot in the Eastern Cape South Africa
Buffalo trophy hunted in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Cape or African Buffalo can be added to our South African Hunting Safari Packages.

Cape Buffalo Hunting in South Africa

Cape buffalo hunting in South Africa.

buffalo trophy will have an average shoulder height of around 65 inches, weigh 1400 pounds, and have a horn length of  36 – 40 inches.

The Safari Club International minimum score for a cape buffalo is 101. Measure the length of the outside of the horn curl from tip to tip, plus the straight-line width measurement of both bosses for a combined total score in inches.

A 375-caliber rifle is the minimum legal requirement to hunt a buffalo.

Buffalo hunting areas are widespread across the Eastern Cape. Generally, Buffalo hunting in South Africa is in high-fenced areas, and the size of the area varies widely.

If you want authentic free-range Buffalo, you must hunt in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, or Tanzania.

However, the trade-off is that buffalo hunting in South Africa is substantially cheaper on an all-in basis.

The day rates in countries like Zimbabwe are expensive and dramatically increase the cost of the overall hunt.

Day rates reflect the taxes and fees paid to the government. In most cases, the land is not private, and the government owns the animals.

In South Africa, most land is private, including the game.

Cape Buffalo hunting in South Africa is still tremendously exciting and hunted by spot and stalk.

Your professional hunter is required to have a dangerous game license for Cape Buffalo hunting on your Southern Africa safari.

In particular, the Buffalo has learned to avoid humans, feed at night, and hide during daylight hours in thickly wooded areas.

Buffalo is considered a dangerous game rather than a plains game.

Vital organs showing the position of the heart and lungs. Buffalo should have a horn length of 36 to 40 inches.
African Buffalo vital organs

Shot placement must be in the bottom third of the animal directly above the front shoulder. This will ensure a heart or lung shot. Avoid head and neck shots which are high-risk.

Trophy Judgement and Rifle Caliber

Bull hunted with Nick Bowker.

As with most African game hunting, shot placement should always be in the bottom third of the shoulder. As a result, a well-placed shot, a rifle of .375 caliber, is adequate for the Cape Buffalo.

Nick Bowker Hunting has a 375 and ammunition for hunters not wishing to go through the red tape of bringing a rifle to South Africa. Included free of charge in your package are the rifle and ammunition.

Robert Ruak famously wrote, “When coming face to face with a buffalo, he will look at you as if you owe him money”;… enough said.

It is probably the number one desired African trophy for international hunters worldwide—dangerous animals to hunt.

A wounded buffalo can sometimes circle back, wait for the hunter along its track, and charge without warning.

Loud death bellows are the best sign of a dying buffalo, but not all will give this bellow.

With age, one will find old solitary bulls move off from the herd; these bulls are called “Dagga Boys” due to their enjoyment of regular mud baths, leaving caked mud on their backs, giving the appearance of dried cement (“Dagga”).

These bulls are the most challenging and fun to hunt and may sometimes form small “Dagga” groups.

A hard and solid boss is the number one sign of a great trophy.

Sometimes, these old bulls won’t carry a spread beyond 30 inches, as horns will wear down with age. These are, in fact, the best and most memorable trophies on a cape buffalo trophy hunt.

Successful hunt for a trophy

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to hunt a Cape Buffalo?

375 is the minimum caliber of a firearm for Cape Buffalo.

The trophy fee as a standalone Cape Buffalo hunt is between $9,000$13,000. Daily rates vary between $250 and $500 per day.

Included in the Cape Buffalo trophy fee is a licensed guide. As well as a hunting license and all permits.

How to hunt a Cape Buffalo?

Cape buffalo have a minimum rifle requirement.

Cape Buffalo hunting is in the early mornings and late evenings and spotted from an elevated vantage point in the thick brush and then stalked. Alternatively,  hunters use ambush techniques at watering holes or as they move back to cover from feeding.

Where do you shoot a Cape Buffalo?

Cape Buffalo trophy hunting in South Africa.

Shot placement must be in the bottom third of the animal directly above the front shoulder. This will ensure a heart or lung shot. Avoid head and neck shots, which are high-risk.

What is a trophy, Cape Buffalo?

Cape Buffalo trophy hunting in South Africa.

Cape Buffalo trophies have a Horn Length of approximately 36 – 40 inches. The minimum qualification score under Safari Club International for a Cape Buffalo is 101.

Measure the length of the outside of the horn curl from tip to tip, plus the straight-line width measurement of both bosses for a combined total score in inches.

Seasonal Restrictions

When can you hunt Cape Buffalo in South Africa?

African Buffalo trophy shot as part of a Cape Buffalo package

There are no seasonal restrictions on Cape Buffalo hunting in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.


The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion, 1st edn. Smithers, RHN, 1983. University of Pretoria, CTP Book Printers, Cape Town.

Wikipedia – African Buffalo

African Wildlife Organization – Wildlife Conservation

Ingwelala – Fauna, and Flora

Wild Life South Africa – Mammals

Somerby Safaris – Cape Buffalo

Fascinating Africa – Buffalo fact file