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Ecosystems

Savanna

Savanna landscape, East AfricaSavanna landscape, East Africa Savanna grasslands are found close to the Equator, outside the belt of tropical rainforests. The largest and best-known savanna grasslands are in Africa, although there are also areas in South America, India and northern Australia. Savanna is dominated by grass, but the landscape is also scattered with bushes and trees. In East Africa, these include acacia, baobab and whistling thorn. The climate is hot and dry from June to October, with a rainy season running from November to May.

Animals of the African savannaAnimals of the African savanna
Leaf-eating animals feed at different levelsLeaf-eating animals feed at different levels

Grazers and browsers

The vast expanses of grass in the African savanna support a wide range of grazing animals, such as wildebeest, zebras and gazelles. Other plant-eaters, such as elephants, giraffes and black rhinos, are browsers, feeding on vegetation from bushes and trees. Both browsers and grazers avoid competition by feeding at different levels.

The giraffe’s long neck and the elephant’s trunk allow them to reach up to the highest leaves, while smaller animals feed lower down. Among the grazers, zebras and buffaloes tear off the coarse, top shoots of the grass. The wildebeest then feed on the leafy layer below, leaving the tender shoots at the base for the gazelles.


Zebra, wildebeest and gazelles grazing Zebra, wildebeest and gazelles grazing Most of the African plant-eaters live in herds, for protection against predators. They move from place to place, according to where grass and water can be found. When the dry season begins, they migrate in a vast mass from their breeding grounds in the south to wetter areas in the north and west.



Gazelles on the East African savannaGazelles on the East African savanna

Savanna covers approximately 40% of Africa and about 20% of the world's land area.

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