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Chapter 20 - African buffalo Syncerus caffer (Sparrman, 1779)

from Part III - Species accounts

Summary

Taxonomy

The name Bos caffer was attributed by Sparrman in 1779. Since then, 92 species names have been given to the African buffalo. Taxonomists initially thought that each buffalo form represented a distinct species. Brooke (1873, 1875), who established the first classification of the African buffalo, reduced the number to three. Later, Blancou (1935) described up to 12 subspecies of buffalo.

Haltenorth (1963), Ansell (1972) and Grubb (1972) summarized the first classifications of Christy (1929), Schouteden (1945) and Blancou (1935, 1954), concluding that all forms should be considered as monospecific. Although there are considerable morphological variations in body size, fur colour, horn shape and size throughout the range of distribution, the African buffalo is currently considered as a single species by various authorities (IUCN 2013; Prins & Sinclair 2013), with a subdivision into four subspecies: Cape buffalo (S. c. caffer), forest buffalo (S. c. nanus), West African savanna buffalo (S. c. brachyceros), and Central African savanna buffalo (S. c. aequinoctialis). Additionally to those four subspecies, a mountain form(S. c. mathewsi) was also described in East Africa and may be distinct (Kingdon 1982).

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