Horison, the buffalo bull which fetched R178 million in 2016. Photo: Herman Verwey
  • Auction prices for buffalo have declined sharply in recent months.
  • Two years ago, two buffalo bulls fetched more than R160 million.
  • At a recent auction, the highest price paid for a buffalo was R4.5 million

Judging from the latest auction prices, it looks like the bull market in buffaloes is finally over. 

At the Kwandwe game auction on Saturday, April 14 in the Eastern Cape, the highest price paid for a buffalo was R4.5 million. 

The pregnant buffalo cow was sired by Horison, the buffalo bull which famously fetched R178 million in 2016. In the same year, the ‘superbuffalo’ Inala was sold for R168 million to a consortium of buyers.

The 'above-average prices' paid for buffalo bulls in previous years seem to be normalising, says Sybrand Mostert, head operational manager of Wildswinkel auctioneers in Bela-Bela in Limpopo.

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Turnover in game sales for Wildswinkel alone have declined from R1,2 billion in 2016 to R756 million in 2017, says Mostert. “We welcome the normalising of prices and sales because breeders can still get value for their money whilst building their breeding stock and acquiring top genetics at reasonable prices which takes years to breed” he adds. 

Horison has the biggest recorded horn span in South Africa - 55” (141.6 cm). Inala's horn span is 51” (130 cm). According to Mostert, investors in buffaloes earn a return on their investment for around 15 to 20 years. One animal can breed a number of offspring: a single bull can produce up to 600 calves.

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Buffalo breeding bulls’ prices vary according to their breeding values and not just according to horn length. Still, horn measurements continue to be important for trophy hunters.  Buffalo trophy bulls sell for anything from $10 000 to $20 000 depending on the trophy quality.

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