Even if you have never been to Africa, you may still have some idea of what the African savanna looks like. Wide-open plains with scattered acacia trees and herds of grazing animals, right? In case you want to know more, stay tuned. Here are 10 things you might not know about the African Savanna.
1. The African Savanna is the world’s largest tropical grassland
The African Savanna is the world’s largest tropical grassland, covering more than 5 million square miles (8.04 sq km), which is quite a lot of space for grass to grow. The Savanna is home to many different animals, including lions, elephants, and giraffes. The grass helps to keep these animals cool and provides them with food and shelter. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the grass on your lawn, just remember that you could be living on the African Savanna.
2. It’s home to over 1,000 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles
In addition to the big cats and primates that are so often associated with Africa, the savanna is also home to a diverse array of other animals, including antelope, buffalo, and even elephants. The Serengeti Plains are home to 45 species of mammals, almost 500 species of birds, and 55 species of acacia.
With such a wide variety of wildlife, you should not be surprised that the African Savanna is a very popular tourist destination. If you’re looking to see some of the world’s most iconic animals up close, the African Savanna should arguably be on your list.
Zebras enjoying tropical grass
3. The African Savanna is home to a variety of plants, including candelabra tree, elephant grass, the acacia Senegal, jackalberry tree, whistling thorn, umbrella thorn acacia, Bermuda grass, and baobabs
Some of these plants, like acacia trees, are well-adapted to the hot, dry climate. Others, like baobab trees, store water in their massive trunk to help them survive during times of drought. Then there are plants like the karoo francolin, which uses its long beak to reach deep into the ground to find moisture.
An Acacia Tree
4. The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa
This world-famous reserve is home to an incredibly diverse range of wildlife, including lions, elephants, and cheetahs. Serengeti National Park is located in northern Tanzania and covers an area of about 5,700 sq mi (14,763 sq km). The park is home to a large number of animals, including lions, elephants, leopards, and buffalo. The Serengeti is also home to a variety of bird species, including vultures, eagles, and ostriches.
Every year, more than two million Wildebeests migrate through the park in search of new grazing grounds, in what is known as the Maasai Mara Migration – one of the world’s largest and longest animal migrations and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
A typical day during Maasai Mara Migration
5. The savanna experiences two rainy seasons per year
The first rains usually arrive in late October or early November, providing a much-needed drink for the parched landscape. The second rainy season typically arrives in March or April, greening up the savanna and giving animals a boost of energy to help them through the dry months ahead. Because of the cyclical nature of the rains, the African savanna is often referred to as the ‘biological engine’ that drives the continent’s wildlife.
6. The African Savanna covers 27 countries
The savanna covers parts of Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Central Sudan, Cote D’ivore, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Togo, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
7. Elephants are the largest land animals on the savanna
Not only are they big, but they’re also very heavy, as they can weigh up to 15,000 pounds (6,800 kilograms)! Their trunk is their most important body part – it’s used for drinking, eating, and even breathing! Elephants are very social animals and live in families called herds. The herd is led by a matriarch, who is usually the oldest and most experienced female. Males leave the herd when they reach adulthood, but females stay with their mothers their whole lives.
Savanna elephants doing something
8. Gazelles and other antelopes are the most common mammals on the savanna
Gazelles are small, graceful antelopes that can be found across the continent. They are generally shy and elusive, but they can be very curious and even playful at times. Gazelles are herbivores, and they eat a variety of plants, including grasses, herbs, and shrubs.
An apparently intrigued gazelle
9. The baobab tree is a distinctive feature of the African Savanna
With its massive trunk and branches, the baobab tree is quite an impressive sight. It is also a valuable source of food and shelter for humans and animals alike. The baobab tree is native to the African Savanna, where it has been a vital part of the ecosystem for centuries. The tree’s massive trunk stores water, which is vital in a region where drought is common. The tree’s leaves are also a valuable source of food for both humans and animals. In fact, the baobab tree is so important to the African Savanna that it is often called the “tree of life.”
Baobab trees look quite peculiar
10. Humans have lived on the African Savanna for over 2 million years
For over two million years, humans have called this sprawling grassland home. Humans have shaped the Savanna ecosystem, through activities like hunting and fire-making. Today, the African Savanna is still home to many traditional societies that continue to live off the land while the modern world is gradually changing this ancient way of life.