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An American bison mother and calf Photo courtesy Ecofriend.org.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.

 

 

June 2006
Last Updated August 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Meat & Poultry

Buffalo Vs Bison: The Difference

Page 3: The American Bison

This is Page 3 of a three-page article on the American bison. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

 

Final Tally: American Bison Vs. European/Asian & African Buffalo

Of the three animals highlighted in this article—bison, Asian Water Buffalo and African Buffalo—only the Asian Water Buffalo has been domesticated.

However, bison have adapted to ranching, and while they are wild animals, are not considered extremely dangerous. The African buffalo, on the other hand, are one of the “top five” killer animals in Africa. They are known to gore and kill several people a year.

Here’s how to tell the American bison apart from buffalo:

American Bison Asian Water Buffalo*

Bison
The American Bison. Don’t call me a buffalo! Photo by Robin Hindle | SXC.

Buffalo
The European Water Buffalo, descended from the Asian Water Buffalo. Photo by Gabor Palla | SXC.

Head: Large and wooly

Horns:Short and curving up

Back: Humped

Wild Habitat: North America


Known For: Meat

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Bison

Species: B. bison

Head: Small and smooth, look like cattle

Horns: Long and curved (“longhorn cattle horns”)

Back: Normal bovine

Wild Habitat: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Thailand; has been domesticated in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere

Known For: Dairy

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Bubalus
Species: B. bubalis

Zebu or Indicus, Brahmin or Humped Cattle   African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo

Neither bison nor buffalo but a close relative of our everyday dairy and beef cattle. European cattle are descended from the Eurasian subspecies; zebu are descended from the Indian subspecies.

African Cape Buffalo
The Cape (African) Buffalo looks similar to the European/Asian species (see above), but has much longer horns. Photo by Stephan Ehrbar | Wikipedia Commons.

Head: Small and smooth bovine (cattle) face

Horns: Short and straight

 

Back: Normal bovine

Wild Habitat: Asia and Africa; zebu originated in the Indian subcontinent and were imported to Africa, Brazil and other

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Bos
Species: Bos primigenius

Subspecies: B. p. indicus

 

Head: Small and smooth, looks like steer  or moose

Horns: Long and curved (“longhorn cattle horns”)

Back: Normal bovine

Wild Habitat: Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Scientific Classification:
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Syncerus
Species: Caffer

Go To The Article Index Above

 

READ MORE ABOUT BISON IN OUR REVIEW OF
BLACKWING BISON

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