Behavior

For most species, males and females generally live apart for most of the year. Adult males live either alone or in allmale groups. Females form groups of varying size, comprised of their young of one to two years age, other females, and sometimes including subadult males. The degree of social grouping varies within Bovinae and is related partly to habitat and to body size. Most tragelaphines, except elands, live solitarily or in small groups. The largest species inhabiting open habitats are highly social, forming large groups, although group size often declines when they occupy more visually dense habitat where group cohesion is more difficult to maintain. When Europeans first traveled across the North

African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) prefer open pasture and swampy areas where they can wallow in the mud. (Photo by David M. Maylen III. Reproduced by permission.)

A greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) cow with nursing calf in Kruger National Park in South Africa. (Photo by Bruce Aiken. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

American plains and before their populations were decimated, bison were reported to live in immense herds. These are probably rivaled today only by the migratory herds of wildebeest in the Serengeti of East Africa or of barren-ground caribou in the Arctic tundra of North America. In most species, the adult males form separate all-male groups apart from the females, young, and subadults.

Among males, fighting can occur over attendance at cows in heat and involves charging and ramming their horns together. More often, hierarchical disputes are settled by dominance displays that involve swinging the horns and head actively from the side, presumably to enhance their apparent

An American bison (Bison bison) rolling in dust in the National Bison Range of Montana, USA. (Photo by Erwin and Peggy Bauer. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) prefer open pasture and swampy areas where they can wallow in the mud. (Photo by David M. Maylen III. Reproduced by permission.)

An American bison (Bison bison) rolling in dust in the National Bison Range of Montana, USA. (Photo by Erwin and Peggy Bauer. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) and cattle egret (Egretta ibis). The egret feeds on the insects stirred up by the moving buffalo. (Photo by Fritz Polking. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

size. The defeated subordinate may act like a juvenile by lowering its head and placing its nose beneath the dominant's belly as if it were to suckle, or it may simple run away.

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