I wrote quite a bit about my 2017 Parc Safari visit in my March post for the Another Baby Boom! calendar, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much this month. Let me start by saying this: for some reason, I took more photos of the water buffalos on my trip than every other animal but three. In my folder for that day there are 31 (!) “tweaked” photos of these beauties, third only to the lion cubs and lynx kittens, all of whom grew up in Toronto and were the main reasons I traveled to Hemmingford in the first place. I have no real explanation for this; there were many more classically “photogenic” animals on site, but for some reason these perpetually grumpy-looking bovines really captured my imagination. I stopped for quite a while with them as I toured the drive-through portion in my car, and when I returned on the Parc Safari truck later on in the day, I snapped off several more shots (from a higher vantage point). I think it may well have had something to do with how incredibly attentive they all seemed to be: many of my captures caught them looking directly at me with expressions that seem vaguely (or perhaps not even that vaguely) disapproving if not downright accusatory.
In several of my shots, the group looks like they’re posing for the cover for the new Hip-Hop album they’re about to drop. I truly believe that if they could fold their front legs across their chests, they would be doing it most of the time. This really tickled my funny bone and I could have spent even longer with them, I am certain; however, I must say I never at any point felt the urge to leave the safety of the car/truck and get closer to them. I’m sure my opinion of them would have changed almost immediately had I been that stupid. As fas as I can tell, the buffalo at Parc Safari are domestic Asian water buffalo, as opposed to wild or Cape. (Wikipedia’s article on Parc Safari lists them as “Asiatic,” which would be the wild species and, therefore, is incorrect.) From their horns they seem to be of the “river buffalo” type, but it does appear to my layman’s eye that there may well be some “swamp buffalo” mixed in there as well – they are lighter-skinned and their horns grow out from the head, rather than down. They are not nearly as dangerous as their Cape buffalo cousins, for example, but they are most definitely “large and in charge” and not to be trifled with. Here, for example, is a shot from the back of the Safari truck as we began to leave the buffaloes behind:
I think it may just have been a stroke of luck that I was able to spend so much time watching the buffalo from my car. They were spending their mid-morning hours swimming and splashing about in the creek and, consequently, were far from the road on which I was parked. This shot of the baby (who as far as I can tell was only a couple of months old at this point) was obviously taken from a vantage point much closer to the ground than the one I featured this month, but I can also verify it was taken from much further away. I wasn’t concerned about their aggressiveness (nor speed!) when first spotted them; in hindsight, having now seen them chase the much larger truck, I wonder if I was a little too calm at the beginning (see my comments about river hippos in my other July post). In any event, I was fascinated by the huge swimming beasts just as much as by the ones frolicking closer to shore. I think I can safely say I just like bovines in general and leave it there.
It seemed from my vantage point that the youngster really wanted to join in with the water festivities but was too little or too uncertain to commit. She (or he?) watched the goings-on from the very edge of the creek as the adults cavorted about in the water and mud – at least, until Mom came marching into the picture after a little while. Calf immediately went to cow when she arrived, not to nurse but, it seemed, just for comfort. I had been wondering which of the adults had produced the wee one; once I caught a glimpse of Mama I wondered no more.
As I mentioned earlier, I think there may well be a mix of types in this herd as both Mom and calf (and a couple of others) seemed to be quite lighter-skinned than how river buffalo are described. Even just in the photo at left the disparity seems quite obvious to me. However they have been put together, however, there sure doesn’t seem to be any sort of issue in bonding, as evidenced by the whole herd of them hanging together for a good portion of the second visit (on the Parc Safari truck). I wasn’t able to feed any of them from my car, as they were too far away, but I did interact with a couple of the adults from the truck. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why we were chased: maybe they weren’t full yet!
I have one more animal from Parc Safari to talk about later in the year. By then there is a very good chance I will have returned with a small group for another visit, so I’ll just leave this piece off here. I’ll add a small mosaic (as I often do) at the end, and invite you to return in August for the second of three fabulous feline litters from the Toronto Zoo in 2017. I might have to write that one early, as it will take hours to filter down the myriad photos of these particular kittens. See you then, and thanks for reading!