Savannas are dry regions that get less than 30 millimeters of precipitation per year and arise when regional climate shifts cause long-term drought conditions. Forests are unable to fill in due to a lack of rain in the climate, yet many residents have developed special abilities and qualities to take advantage of the tall grasses and vast, scattered trees.
1. African Elephant
The African elephant is the world’s largest and heaviest land animal, weighing up to 6 tonnes. Their unique and dexterous elephant trunk, enormous ears that cool the body when flapped, and lengthened incisors in the form of tusks are all noteworthy features. The African elephant is divided into two species: the African bush elephant and the smaller African forest elephant.
Cheetahs, one of the more well-known savanna dwellers, reside in the grasslands and open woods of the savannas of eastern and southern Africa. Not only does the cheetah’s colors help it blend in with the grasslands of the savanna, but their bodies are also built for hunting. In reality, cheetahs can run at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, making them the fastest animal on the planet.
It has even developed claws that are slightly curved and entirely retractable, making it easier to grip the ground when dashing after prey. When the pursuit is complete, this trait also makes it easier for them to bury their claws into prey.
Lions are perhaps one of the first animals that come to mind when you think of the African savanna. A lion’s brown tint, like that of many other creatures in this ecosystem, allows it to blend in with its surroundings. Lions’ retractable claws, similar to those of cheetahs, making it easier for them to grasp their prey, while their rough tongues enable the predators get to the meat faster.
Lions have also evolved to adapt to their environment’s temperature by altering the thickness of their manes during periods of drought or high temperatures. Similarly, lions are often nocturnal, allowing them to hunt in the nighttime when it is cooler.
Rhinos are something that must be seen to really appreciate their majesty. A rhino sighting is always exciting, and your heart will likely skip a beat as you stare in admiration. The rhino, which was formerly common throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, has been hunted to extinction and is perhaps the most difficult of the big five to spot in the wild.
In Africa, there are two types of rhinoceros: black rhinoceros and white rhinoceros. While white rhinos have made a comeback thanks to conservation efforts across the continent, black rhinos remain one of Africa’s most endangered creatures and the most difficult safari animal to find. The primary distinctions between white and black rhinos are not based on color, but rather on size, temperament, food preference, and mouth shape.
5. Spotted Hyena
Hyenas are unique and important components of most African ecosystems, both preying on other animals’ kills and hunting themselves. The size of a hyena kill or scavenging is dictated by the size of the hyena’s tribe, which might number in the dozens. They usually hide extra food in watering holes since nothing goes to waste.
Caracals are medium-sized wild cats native to Africa that live in savannas, woods, scrub and acacia woodlands, marshy lowlands, and semi-deserts. Caracals, while being mostly nocturnal, have a low top eyelid that protects their eyes from the strong glare of the sun.
Caracals, like gazelles, can live for long periods of time without water, making them well-suited to savanna living. Furthermore, the cat’s distinctive ear tufts enable survival in the savanna by camouflaging the cats amid tall grasses and assisting them in identifying the precise location of their prey.
The giraffe, with its long neck and sleeping eyes, is one of the most appreciated animals on the savanna. While their long necks allow them to reach high branches and foliage, giraffes also have the strongest tongues of any mammal, measuring 18 inches long and prehensile. The tongue is dark in color to protect it from the sun and covered in a glue-like saliva that keeps thorns and sticks at bay.
Zebras, with their distinctive black and white striped coats, are possibly Africa’s most fashionable stars. These three different kinds of horse’s distant ancestors are a common sight on any African safari. Plains zebras serve an especially intriguing role in the ecology because they are pioneer gazers, nibbling and eating on the top layer of grass and therefore opening up the grassland for more specialized grazers hunting for the small grasses hidden underneath.
Blue wildebeests, sometimes known as gnus, are antelopes that seem more like cattle than antelopes. These herbivores serve a crucial role in keeping grass low and otherwise preserving the savanna habitat for other local animals as a keystone species of the plains and acacia savanna ecosystems.
Wildebeests have long tails to swat flies and black, vertical stripes to help them hide at night, among other adaptations for savanna life. And, because they are prey animals, wildebeests have adapted by giving birth to their calves over a three-week period in order to keep their numbers high and survival rates high.
Last but not least, the cute Aardvarks can be found all over Africa, south of the Sahara. Their name is derived from the Afrikaans language of South Africa and means “earth pig.” Because they are nocturnal, they spend the hot African afternoons resting in their cool underground burrows and the nights searching for termites in grasslands and woods can be found in African.
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