Hunting Cape Buffalo

The Cape Buffalo ( Syncerus caffer) claims its spot as the number 1 Bucket-list animal for most hunters visiting Africa. Widely referred to as The Black Death of Africa, the Cape Buffalo is seen as the most dangerous hunt of the Dangerous 7 animals.

At 2,000 Lbs of brute strength and muscle, it usually takes a couple of shots to bring him down. The Buffalo likes the thick vegetation and Bushveld habitat of Africa. A walk-and-stalk method is the only way to get close enough to these beasts. With their rock-hard bosses, you will often hear them crushing through the thick brush, and one can’t help but to have a shiver down your spine while hunting them.

At Kaiwhai Safaris we have some of the best quality Buffalo around! With our 100% success rate our clients knows they are there for a safe, successful, and rewarding hunt.


Natural History – One of the Big Five. A dangerous game animal; aggressive, vindictive, cunning. Cape buffalo can weigh up to three-quarters of a ton; exceptional eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell. Gregarious herd animals. Water-dependent coarse grazers; occasional browsers. Favours thick bush during daylight. Ruminants. Five subspecies are recognized

Sex Determination – Can be difficult when visibility restricted. Both sexes carry horns, but cows do not have a boss. Mature bulls have thick, well-muscled necks, heavy, well-developed shoulders, blunt horn tips, a solid boss, and a distinctly visible penis sheath.

Trophy Assessment – Look for wide outside spread, deep curl, and a solid boss. SCI method (4): sum of length in inches of both horns around the outside of the curl, combined with straight-line width of both bosses; only bulls may be entered. Roland Ward method (12): width of outside spread. When a mature bull is looking at you, outside spread of ear tips = 30-32 inches. A hand’s width (4 inches) of spread beyond the ear tips on both sides = +/- 4O-inch bull for RW measurement. With a solid boss, this is a good trophy.

The Hunt – Track, walk, and stalk. Buffalo need to drink daily; makes finding spoor easier. Warmth and freshness of dung good indicator of how far ahead they are. Watch/listen for oxpeckers, the hunter’s friend.

Rifle, calibre, and Bullet Selection
Shooting distances are usually short (20-120 paces) with majority of shots taken at 30-80 paces. -Legal minimum is 9.3x62mm, 9.3x74R, or .375 H&H, depending on country. Larger calibres, .40s and .458s, more effective. Premium-quality expanding bullets for initial’ well-positioned shots; solids for all backing ones. Good-quality, low-power or 1-4X variable scope an advantage.

Shot Placement

  • Side-on high heart/lung shot the most recommended: Place shot into centre of the “vital triangle”.
  • Side-on neck/spinal shot: place shot just in front of and a hand’s width (4 inches) above point of shoulder.
  • Side-on shoulder/spinal shot: Place shot higher up on shoulder, through neck or shoulder blade.
  • Full frontal chest shot: Place shot squarely into centre of chest at shoulder-joint level.
  • Full frontal spinal shot: place shot below the chin, into centre of neck.
  • Full frontal brain shot: take only if really close; just where depends on angle of head. (Nose up: Place shot on bridge of nose between top of nostrils and below eyes. Nose down: place shot just below boss.)
  • Full frontal neck shot (when buffalo is facing you with head down): Place shot into back of neck anywhere along the centre line.
  • Quartering frontal shot: Depends on angle; place either on shoulder joint or just inside it.
  • Quartering-away shots: should be taken only as backup shots. Remember: Rumen situated on left-hand side.
  • Rear end or “Texas heart shot”: Most common backup; place fairly high up, just above the anus at the base of the tail’

Shot placement on any of the dangerous game in Africa is vital. Below are some images from a very well-known author, Kevin Robertson’s Book – Perfect Shot Placement for African Big Game. If you would like to buy a copy of this book, which we would recommend, you can get it on Amazon, by clicking here