One of the most successful of Africa’s wild , the Cape buffalo thrives in virtually all types of grassland habitat in sub-Saharan Africa, from dry savanna to swamp and from lowland floodplains to montane mixed forest and glades, as long as it is within commuting distance of water (up to 20 km [12 miles]). It is immune to some diseases that afflict domestic cattle in Africa—in particular, the bovine sleeping sickness (nagana) transmitted by . However, the Cape buffalo is susceptible to cattle-borne diseases. In the 1890s a plague swept the African continent from Ethiopia to the Cape of Good Hope and killed up to 90 percent of the buffalo, as well as many . Although buffalo populations recovered over the next decades, they have continued to suffer from periodic outbreaks of rinderpest, , and other diseases to which both buffalo and cattle are susceptible, while at the same time they have had to compete with ever-increasing numbers of cattle for essentially the same feeding niche as bulk grazers.
Influenced by forces discussed above, the U.S. government pursued a policy to eradicate the buffalo and thereby extinguish the Indians' very sustenance, forcing them onto reservations. The following speech, recounted by John Cook--a buffalo hunter, was delivered by General Phil Sheridan to the Texas legislature in 1875. The legislature, as the story goes, was discussing a bill to protect the buffalo when the General took the floor in opposition:
The Seditious and Riotous Assembly Acts of the late 19th century affected the gatherings of clubs throughout Britain. To overcome this and show the Buffaloes were not subversive to the interest of the state, the Order described itself as the "Loyal Order of Buffaloes"'. The word "loyal" was often mispronounced as , and soon stuck. The addition of "Antediluvian" (meaning before the time of the flood in the Bible) occurred in the 1850s.