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The Making of a Diorama

The Habitat Views video considers ways of looking at dioramas today, and documents the creation of several new displays. Take a look over on our  YouTube channel >

Recreating Nature Indoors

Ever wonder who made the dioramas in our mammal halls? Read all about the artists who created these wonderful scenes. Learn more >

Field Research

"Most of the world's mammals were described in Darwin's time. But I can go somewhere today and see things that no one else has seen before or identified, doing all kinds of bizarre things." 

—Dr. Brian Brown, Entomology Curator, pictured here in Argentina, studying bee-killing flies who attack their hosts on palm flowers.


Cape Buffalo

Syncerus caffer (Sparrman, 1779)

Cape buffalo diorama in the African mammal hall


 Waterhole near the Tana River, Kenya


 Maurice A. Machris and the Tom and Valley Knudsen Foundation

Background artist:

 Duncan Alanson Spencer

Also present:

savanna elephant,
Vulturine Guinea Fowl (Acryllium vulturinum),
Sandgrouse (Pterocles sp.)

The Cape or African buffalo is the largest African antelope and can weigh up to 2000 lbs. It has few natural predators other than man. Lions will attack only old, sick or immature buffaloes and leopards will attack only newborn calves.

The buffalo is one of the “big five game animals” (the other four being elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros). For hunters, it is the most dangerous of the five.

Biological Information

Range map for the cape buffalo


Sub-Saharan Africa


Grassy glades, water courses, and waterlogged basins


Common over much of its range but declining in west and central Africa



Further information about this species may be found on the Animal Diversity Web page for African buffalo.