African Buffalo

Syncerus caffer

About the object

This taxidermy is visibly the worse for wear, as the mounted head is hanging down somewhat. There are many reasons for this. The African Buffalo belongs to the Big Five of Africa and is therefore of great importance for trophy hunting. Its habitat is becoming increasingly restricted due to competition with extensive cattle farming.
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The animal was hunted by Colonel Paul Baumstark, who commissioned this taxidermy for private purposes. The exact circumstances have not been documented. Paul Baumstark was a Colonel in the Schutztruppe (Imperial colonial protection force) and was stationed in Schirati on Lake Victoria at a military post in the role of first lieutenant in the former German colony of German East Africa. He carried out punitive expeditions there against the Maasai on behalf of the Imperial Schutztruppe. He collected ethnographic material and enjoyed hunting. The taxidermied head was preserved in a primitive manner, the skin probably untreated. The anonymous taxidermist was most likely inexperienced. The object reveals damage caused by a variety of things: for example, impairments caused by strong climatic fluctuation, very probably improper storage, handling and transport, perhaps even sustaining damage as a result of falling from the wall. It is an emphatic reminder of the important obligation to conserve and store the collections entrusted to the museum to a professional standard. The African buffalo is also known as the kaffir buffalo. The word "kaffir" is derived from the Arabic. During German colonial history, the term was used pejoratively in reference to members of different societies in southern Africa. This term is deeply racist and documents the extent to which the colonists devalued indigenous societies. It is prohibited in South Africa.

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