The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Buffalo (oxen)
BUFFALO, the name of two species of the true oxen, as distinguished from the bisons, to which they bear bat a faint resemblance, though they are included with them in the genus bos (Linn.). The general characteristics of the buffalo are conical horns, inclining successively outward, downward, backward, upward, and forward, with their tips on a plane above and a little in front of the top of the forehead; forehead convex, and longer than broad; the intermaxillary bones elongate, shelving back, and giving prominence to the nasal bone. This animal must not be confounded with the American bison (bos Americanus), which is almost universally called the buffalo, its furry hides being styled buffalo robes. The two species of the true buffalo are the bos bubalus (Linn.) of India and the bos Caffer (Sparm.) of South Africa. They are called on both continents simply the buffalo, but are separated zoölogically as the Indian and Cape buffalo. These two species form the genus bubalus of some naturalists.
In India, the buffalo is again subdivided into the tame and the wild, although they are both of the same species. Mr. B. H. Hodgson thus speaks of them: “The bhainsa, or tame buffalo, is universal in India. The arna, or wild buffalo, inhabits the margins rather than the interior of primeval forests. They never ascend the mountains, and adhere, like the rhinoceros, to the most swampy sites of the district they inhabit. There is no animal upon which ages of domesticity have made so small an impression as upon the buffalo, the tame being still most clearly referable to the wild ones, frequenting all the great swampy jungles of India. The arna ruts in autumn, gestating ten months, and produces one or two young in summer. It lives in large herds, but in the rutting season the most lusty males lead off and appropriate several females, with which they form small herds for the time. The wild buffalo is fully a third larger than the largest tame breeds, measuring 10½ ft. from snout to vent, and 6 or 6½ ft. high at the shoulders, and is of such power and vigor as by his charge frequently to prostrate a good-sized elephant. It is remarkable for the uniform shortness of the tail, which does not extend lower than the hock, for the tufts which cover the forehead and knees, and lastly for the great size of its horns. They are uniformly in high condition, so unlike the leanness and angularity of the domestic buffalo even at its best.” The arna variety is known to naturalists as the bos arni. Its horns, which grow out horizontally from either side of a flattened frontal bone, rise in a regular crescent upward and backward until near the point, when the tips, which are nearly equidistant with the bases, turn slightly forward. The bases of the horns, which are flattened and deeply corrugated in irregular rings through three fourths of their length, and smooth only at the points, often measure each upward of 18 inches in circumference, while their length, taken along the outer curve, has been known to exceed 5 ft. in either horn, and to include a distance of 10 ft. from tip to tip. Its covering consists of smooth, short, thin hair, resembling the bristles of a hog more than the coat of the ox family. It is addicted to wallowing in the mud, is fierce and vindictive, and in its native jungles is more than a match for the Bengal tiger, which never attacks it unprovoked. This buffalo was introduced into Egypt, Greece, and Italy during the middle ages. Its great strength makes it peculiarly adapted for draught; its milk is good, its skin highly valued, but its flesh is much inferior to that of the ox. It prefers marshy and even malarious places and coarse plants.—The Caffer or Cape buffalo of Africa has very large, black horns, placed close together and flattened at the base, broad, rough, and sinuously ringed, covering the whole front with a sort of horny helmet, with a smooth tip curved upward and inward. Its horns are more horizontal in position than those of the arna, which are sometimes elevated two feet above the frontal bone. It has pendent ears and dewlap, skin with dark, stiff hairs about an inch long, and, though of massive proportions and extremely ferocious, has neither the height nor the activity of its Indian congener.
Both species lack the hump and mane characteristic of the bisons. The Cape buffalo is a native of South Africa; it congregates in immense herds, but the old bulls, which become quite gray, and are often almost destitute of hair, sometimes adopt solitary habits, when they grow very savage, attacking both men and animals in mere wantonness, trampling and kneeling on the carcasses and crushing them with their massy horns and frontlets, until every bone is broken. This animal also delights to wallow in the mire, and when heated by hunting plunges into the first pool, in which he wholly submerges himself, allowing only the extremity of his muzzle to protrude. All travellers dwell on the loud bellow which he utters in the death agony.—There is an Indian wild bull (bos gaunis), little known, which appears to be intermediate between the bison and buffalo. Gen. Hardwicke and Capt. Rogers describe it as a genuine bull, neither bison nor buffalo; but Major Walter Campbell, the author of the “Old Forest Ranger,” who gives a full description of this rare animal, which he calls the jungle roolgha, makes it clearly a bison. From the character of its horns, which resemble those of the Cape buffalo in form, though they have not the horny helmet over the brow, and of its hump, supported by hump ribs, and of its mane, it is presumed that, on further investigation, it will be elevated into a distinct genus. (See Bison.)