This might seem a strange description for a lone African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) seen wallowing in the mud, walking ever so slowly towards a waterhole or grazing in the veld. The double ‘g’ in dagga is pronounced as you would the ‘g’ in ‘gold’ or ‘glory’. The term ‘dagga’ in this context most likely has its origins in the Zulu word udaka (meaning mud or clay). In fact, you might frequently see remnants of mud caked on the hide of these lone buffalo. This is because they seem to spend a lot of time either rolling in mud or immersing themselves in muddy wallows.

These solitary old buffalo are past their prime – you can usually see how their covering of hair has thinned so that bald spots appear. By wallowing in thick mud the buffalo ensure they have a barrier against both the sun and the parasites that might infest these bald spots. Here two of these old dagga boys have teamed up in the Kruger National Park to seek water. Note the Red-billed Oxpeckers on their backs – they too help rid these animals of pesky parasites.

This lone dagga boy is grazing in the Addo Elephant National Park – not far from water, yet with no other buffalo to be seen in the area. He is possibly staying in this area with soft green grass because his teeth have worn down with age and so it is easier to eat. Note his heavy boss and upward curved horns – he must have been a formidable bull in his prime.

Now he lives away from the herd. He might team up with another dagga boy. Either way, as he weakens with age – and without the protection of the herd – he will become a target for predators.

Rest well old chap.


30 thoughts on “DAGGA BOY

  1. Their cantankerous reputation is well deserved and we’ve only ever been charged by these lone bulls, never by buffaloes from a breeding herd. I have great admiration for lions that have the guts to take on these behemoths.


  2. Very interesting Anne and I can’t help but comparre them with elderly humans who pass their days in old age homes, away from the families they created and cared for in their youth. I always enjoy your pics.


  3. Oh, and I wanted to mention that in Afrikaans, we differentiate between dagga (marijuana) which word originated from the Khoi-language, and dagha (messelklei – mortar) which, according to the Afrikaans etymology dictionary, originated from the Nguni (Zulu / Xhosa) word udaka, meaning mud or klei.


  4. Interesting how the bald spot appears on these Daggas, but even more interesting … does the muddy water not contain any harmful parasites in it that also might contaminate that unprotected skin? The mud hole looks dirty. Maybe mud is more therapeutic than I am thinking?


    • Elephants also use mud to provide a protective layer to shield their body from the sun’s rays and as a relief from insect bites. The cover of mud also helps them to keep cool and removes parasites as it dries and falls off the animals.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s interesting – I didn’t realize that Anne. Now, you and I would think of mud as dirty, but I guess some women use a “mud mask” or “clay mask” so it would be similar and more bonus for an animal as it removes parasites.

        Liked by 1 person

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