To most South-Africans they are known as the “Black Death, but to 13-year-old Luke Michaelides, two wild African Buffalos have become his best friends. The African Buffalo is one of the “big five” African species credited with killing over 200 people every year, in South Africa alone. Some specimens grow up to 6 feet tall and 11 feet long, and can weigh up to 1,350 kg. They can easily rip apart a full grown man, let alone a 13-year-old, but that hasn’t stop Luke from becoming friends with “Hop-a-long” and her offspring “Skip-a-long”.
Luke began visiting Hop-a-long and Skip-a-long, daily, getting closer to them with each day, bringing them food and water, and talking to them. One day, they looked so peaceful that he decided to touch them. Now their friendship has evolved so much that he is able to give them scrub baths and lie on as he watches the sun go down.
Although they realize how special their son’s relationship to the African buffaloes is, Luke Michaelides’ parents say they are terrified each time they see him going towards them, and his mother says a prayer so the Lord keeps him safe. Luke himself is aware of the danger he exposes himself to every day, but he loves his friends so much he can’t stand away from them for too long.
Luke Michaelides is currently working on a book on the African Buffalo, things he has observed in the nine months he spent so close to them, and the way he managed to gain their trust and become such a close friend.