Syncerus caffer nanus (nana)
1) General Zoological Data
There is one species of African buffalo, Syncerus caffer. The Forest buffalo that is being considered here, Syncerus caffer nanus, while physically quite different, is generally listed as a subspecies although it is very distinct phenotypically and in its habitat. The Savannah buffalo, Syncerus caffer caffer is the larger, darker species and considered to be an extremely dangerous game animal in Africa. Pohle (2002) described that the aggressiveness in captivity has even led to a number of conspecific deaths. Few zoos keep this species now; there are only three left in Germany that keep this species (Pohle, 2002). Numerous different subspecies have been considered to characterize the intermediate forms; these were reviewed extensively by Grubb (1971) and are also listed by Wilson & Reeder (1992). It appears to me that there is still considerable confusion in this genus with its numerous phenotypes, the formerly wider distribution and, especially, because of the wide variability of karyotypes (52-56) which is atypical for any "good" species. Perhaps the results of mtDNA by Simonsen et al. (1998) give further explanation to these karyotypic varieties. These authors found a "high levels of genetic variability" that did not support suggestions that severe bottlenecks had occurred in recent decades as a possible result of outbreaks of rinderpest. "Hybridization" occurs occasionally between Savannah and Forest buffalos but this alone can hardly account for the wide phenotypic differences.
The Forest buffalo is smaller ("dwarf" = nanus) and has longer red-brown hair; the Savannah species is larger and darker as well as less hairy. In between, but also of Western origin, are red, less hairy buffalos with different names (e.g. S. c. brachyceros). Groves (1981) reviewed what is known of bovid speciation and placed the divergence of Syncerus- from Bos-like ancestors at about 4-5 million years ago. Many zoological gardens exhibit one or the other species. The animals may live up to 30 years.
General Gestational Data
General Characterization of the Placenta
Details of fetal/maternal barrier
As other Bovoidea, Syncerus has a single-layered, single-nucleated trophoblast cover over its villi, with the exception of the typical binucleate cells that are so characteristic for ruminants (Wooding, 1982). These were studied in greater detail by Wooding et al. (1997) and are now considered to produce placental lactogen and other glycoproteins. Their glycoprotein molecule production was studied by Atkinson et al. (1993) but their usefulness is as yet unknown.
One of the umbilical cords measured 9 cm, the other 28.7 cm. They had four large blood vessels and a central allantoic duct. The cords had essentially no Wharton's jelly, no twists and no other unusual features. The last specimen received following Cesarean section had a 35 cm long umbilical cord.
7) Uteroplacental circulation
This has not been described for this species.
Trophoblast external to barrier
Since no implanted placenta has been available, no judgment can be made as to uterine trophoblast infiltration. Considering other bovid specimens, however, invasion of the endometrium is unlikely in this species as well.
et al. (1998) studied the mtDNA control region of various populations of
African buffalo and found high levels of genetic variability.
Other remarks - What additional Information is needed?
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