Difference between Bison and Buffalo

July 3, 2016 by Editorial Team

Bison and Buffalos are sometimes regarded as interchangeable, perhaps because they both belong to the cattle family and may appear similar to one another. However, both have distinct physical features that separate one from the other, and both are located in different places as well.

Definitions

American Bison

The two surviving species of bison are the American bison, which is located in North America and is greater in number, and the European bison, which is located in Europe. Sometimes, the American bison is also called a buffalo, but it is in truth far away in relation to the true buffalo. Bisons have a large shoulder hump and horns that look like a cow’s.

Buffalo
Cape Buffalo of Africa

Buffalos come from either of these two continents: Africa or South Asia. The buffalo in Africa is called an African Buffalo or Cape Buffalo, while the one in South Asia is called a Water Buffalo. Buffalos have huge horns with merged bases that curve into a bone shield called a “boss”. They are known to be extremely dangerous and kill more than 200 people each year.

Comparison

The differences between bison and buffalo lie in their locations and physical features. Bison are found either in America (American bison) or Europe (European bison) and have a large shoulder hump and cow-like horns. Buffalos, on the other hand, are found either in Africa (African buffalo or Cape buffalo) or South Asia (Water buffalo) and their horns are merged at the bottom then curve up into a bone shield referred to as a “boss”.

Comparison Chart

BisonBuffalo
Located in America (American bison) and in Europe (European bison)Located in Africa (African buffalo or Cape buffalo) and South Asia (Water buffalo)
Have a large shoulder humpNo shoulder hump
Have cow-like hornsHave horns with merged bases that curve into a bone shield called a “boss”