Saved By The Bell! Watch A Mama Buffalo Save Her Baby From A Stalking Lion With 1 Second To Spare

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Written by Angie Menjivar

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Wild water buffalo - grazing in the grass
David Havel/

Although baby animals can make easy prey, when their mothers are around, it’s not so simple. The video at the bottom of the page shows what happens when a mother buffalo steps in to save her calf from a stalking lion.

Where Is The Mjejane Game Reserve?

The Mjejane Game Reserve is situated right next to Kruger National Park in South Africa. There were previously fences separating the two locations, but they have since been removed, allowing all the wildlife to roam freely. On these lands, there are birds, flowers, trees, reptiles, and mammals, including the big five: buffalo, rhino, elephant, leopard, and lion. Additional mammals in the area include antelopes, wild cats, black-backed jackals, wildebeests, zebras, cheetahs, and more.

What Sounds Do Buffaloes Make?

Water buffalo with calf gazing in the paddy field in Manipur, India

Calves make a high-pitched bellowing sound when calling out for their mothers.

Buffaloes make a diverse range of sounds depending on what they intend to communicate. Among themselves, there is regular chatter that sounds like mumbling interspersed with grunts. When using this vocalization, it’s business as usual for them. When they start to make a gargling sound, it’s more important because this is how mothers communicate with calves. This sound is especially important when it’s elongated because it alerts the calves of danger. When you hear grunt sounds (long or short), they’re looking to intimidate you.

Is It Normal for Water Buffalo To Defend Themselves?

Two huge water buffalos fighting on a sandy soil in tunisian national park

Buffalo are quite capable of defending themselves against predators.

Water buffalo are formidable creatures that can protect themselves against predators such as lions. They are quite large and can use their horns to stab and push aside potential predators. Water buffalo also form herds for protection, with larger, more experienced males at the front of the herd to fend off threats.

It is also normal for a mama buffalo to defend her baby from a lion attack. If threatened, she will charge the lion and use her horns in a desperate attempt to protect her calf. She may also use her large body to shield the calf from the lion and will often resort to kicking or stomping the lion if necessary.

Water buffalo are strong and resilient animals that are able to protect themselves and their young from potential predators. Even when facing off against a lion, they will use their horns, size, and strength to ward off the threat.

Mama Buffalo Saves Her Baby

water buffalo in the wild

Water buffalo use the size of their herd to stay safe from lions.

When the video below starts, there are several vehicles out on safari that have stopped next to a calf. It’s making a high-pitched bellowing sound, clearly looking for its mother. The newborn’s steps are still awkward as it looks around, unyielding to its call. It approaches one of the vehicles, its call louder as it approaches. It backs up a few steps and turns around, walking toward the vehicle in front. It has no idea of the danger that has just arrived — a lion is only several feet away, approaching slowly, its gaze steady on the calf.

The calf continues making the loud bellowing sound as the lion continues approaching on the same road. It pauses, staring at the calf as if in a state of amazement that its next meal could literally be walking right to it, making for such a simple catch. The calf continues taking steps closer to the lion, unaware of its presence. The lion remains still for several moments as the calf keeps walking. Just as the calf looks up and notices the lion, it takes a single step forward, ready for attack. But that is the only step it’s able to take because the calf’s mother appears from behind the trees, startling the lion and forcing it to retreat.

How Big Are Water Buffalo?

Water buffalo in Sri Lanka

Young water buffalo are only a few hundred pounds at the one-year mark.

Water buffalo are large animals with impressive size measurements regardless of their age. An adult water buffalo typically stands about 5 feet tall and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. Young water buffalo, which are usually referred to as calves, are much smaller, usually ranging between 2 and 3 feet tall and weighing up to 600 pounds. As they age, water buffalo grow larger and heavier. By the time they reach adulthood, they can measure up to 8 feet long and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. Their horns also grow substantially over time, with some adults boasting horns that can measure up to 3 feet long. Despite their size, water buffalo are generally docile and calm creatures.

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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