Buffalo in large reserves form closely bonded mixed herds that can total many hundreds of individuals, while the herds on private game farms will comprise of far fewer animals due to their high cost and the limited size of available land.
These large, ungainly animals are notorious for their ability to vanish into the bush, merging quietly with the shadows while the helicopter fly’s up and down searching, or circling the area where they were sighted just moments before.
Carriers of diseases that pose a national threat to South Africa’s meat and cattle industry, all captured buffalo must undergo a quarantine period in a registered facility before being translocated to a new area to be released. During this time, two batches of blood samples will have been analysed to ensure that there is no threat of an outbreak from the group.
There is a relatively small pool of naturally disease free buffalo available, resulting in a high selling price. Unfortunately, most of South Africa’s buffalo population falls within a strictly designated disease area. Due to the high demand for buffalo, and the need to maintain viable disease free populations, a number of buffalo breeding projects emerged a few years ago. Adult bulls and pregnant buffalo cows within this disease area are selected for breeding projects where they will be kept in large quarantined camps. The calves of these buffalo are removed from their mothers at birth, before contamination takes place, and are either hand reared or placed with a surrogate domestic cow. A process of extensive testing will determine whether these calves are “clean”.