12 julio, 2024

25 animals of the African savannah and their characteristics

The animals of the african savannah They have always attracted humans for their unique characteristics, diversity, and abundance. From the caribou and the vulture, through hyenas, zebras, giraffes, antelopes, gazelles, rhinos and elephants, to the lion.

The latter erroneously called King of the Jungle, since its natural habitat is mainly in the vast savannahs of Africa. African savannahs are part of the world’s extensive savannah biome, characterized by plains dominated by grasses, especially grasses.

They are lands with a warm tropical climate, where trees are either absent or distributed in a very dispersed way. In addition, its climate is characterized by having two seasons, one dry and the other rainy, which conditions the behavior of the species that inhabit it.

However, in the rainy season, no more than 500 to 1,200 mm of rain fall on an annual average. While temperatures are around 23ºC on average for the year, reaching maximums of up to 38ºC.

In addition to the great diversity of animal species, the savannah is characterized by the large herds that constitute some of them. Such is the case with zebras, antelopes, gazelles and wildebeests, especially the latter form migrating herds of thousands of individuals.

The largest migration of mammals on the planet occurs with the arrival of the dry season in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. There are two million herbivores traveling more than 3,000 km, including 1 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras, gazelles and other species.

savannah mammals

cape buffalo (syncerus caffer)

It is a wild bovine native to the African savannas that reaches up to 3.4 m in length, 1.7 m in height and 1,000 kg in weight. The species includes three subspecies that range from central Africa south of the Sahara to the Cape of Good Hope.

They display dark brown to black fur and two thick, inward-curving lateral horns.

Zebra (equus spp.)

There are three species of zebras, two of which are typical of the African savannahs, the Grévy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) and common zebra (Equus quagga). Since the mountain zebra (equus zebra) although it is plains, they are mountainous highlands.

These relatives of the horse are unmistakable due to their black coloration with white stripes, in addition to their mane of erect hairs.

African bush elephant (loxodonta africana)

It is the largest terrestrial animal on the planet, reaching 7.5 m in length, 4 m in height and 6,000 kg in weight. They have large ears that allow them to regulate their body heat on hot days in the savannah. As well as its long trunk with which it is capable of taking food and water that it carries into its mouth.

Warthog (Phacochoerus spp.)

They are also known as warthogs, for the warts they display on their face, with a large snout and two huge protruding tusks. These fangs, in addition to defense, are used to dig into the ground in search of food.

There are two species that inhabit the savannah, the largest and most abundant is the common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus). On the other hand, there is the eastern warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) that inhabits the horn of Africa to the east.

spotted hyena or spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

It is perhaps the most typical of the hyena species, characterized by having longer front legs than the rear ones. Its 1.7 m long body is yellowish brown covered with dark brown spots.

In addition, it has strong jaws capable of chopping the bones of the carrion on which it feeds, although they are also hunters.

Impala (Aepyceros melampus)

It is a species of antelope up to 1.3 m in length and 92 cm in height, capable of jumping up to 10 m in length. Its back is light brown and the belly, chest and neck are white, the males presenting two erect curved horns up to 90 cm.

Giraffe (giraffa camelopardalis)

This is another very peculiar animal of the African savannah, with its long neck ending in a relatively small head with two small horns. They reach up to 5.8 m in height, being the tallest land animal, as indicated by its name derived from Arabic, giraffe = tall.

Their fur has a characteristic color pattern with reddish-brown or orange spots on a white or cream background.

Lion (Panthera leo)

It is the largest cat in the world, reaching up to 3.34 m in length plus a 105 cm tail, and a height of 1.25 m. It lives in the savannahs of Africa south of the Sahara desert, and in jungles on the Atlantic coast and the Congo River basin.

A small population is also located in northwestern India and was formerly found throughout much of the planet.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)​

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals, being able to reach 1,150 kilometers per hour. They take advantage of their speed and morphology for hunting, especially gazelles and impalas, and they are distributed throughout much of Africa. They are polygamous and cannot roar.

Lycaon or African wild dog (lycaon pictus)

It belongs to the dog family and bears a distant resemblance to hyenas in its face shape and coat colour. Hence, it is also called a hyena dog, being an efficient hunter in a pack.

Its fur is yellowish brown with black and white spots, with a long tail with a yellowish brown base, a black middle part and a white tip. The front of the face and throat are black.

Wildebeest (Connochaetes spp.)

There are two species of wildebeest that form large herds, the blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) and the black wildebeest or white-tailed wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou). Wildebeests belong to the group of antelopes.

In the case of the blue wildebeest, it reaches up to 2.15 m in length plus a 55 cm tail and 1.22 m in height. While the white-tailed wildebeest that lives towards South Africa, it is somewhat smaller in size.

Blue wildebeests form the largest known migrating herd. More than a million animals move in it in search of pasture between July and September.

white rhino (Ceratotherium simum)

It is one of two species of rhinoceros that inhabit the African savannah, in this case restricted to southern Africa with around 20,000 animals. There was previously another subspecies in the Congo, but the last specimen died in 2018.

The white rhino is the fourth largest land animal, after the three species of elephant. They reach 4.2 m in length, 1.85 m in height, weigh 4,500 kg and have two frontal horns.

black rhino or hook-lipped (Diceros bicornis)

It is smaller than the white rhinoceros, reaching 3.8 m in length, 1.6 m in height and up to 1,500 kg in weight. It is also a darker gray color than the white rhinoceros and, like the white rhinoceros, it has two frontal horns. Today there are just over 48,000 specimens of this species.

Topi (Damaliscus korrigum)

It is a species of bovine 1.7 m long, 110 kg in weight and turned horns slightly curved backwards. Its short fur is reddish brown except for the upper half of the legs and muzzle, which are dark brown almost black.

While the lower half of its legs are yellowish brown. Its distribution is scattered throughout Africa south of the Sahara, forming several subspecies.

birds of the savannah

ostrich (struthio camelus)

It is the largest bird in the world, reaching 3 m in height, being non-flying, but a runner, reaching speeds of up to 90 km/h. Their bodies are covered with large black feathers in males, with a white tail and wingtips, and brown to gray in females. While the neck is devoid of feathers like the head.

African white-backed vulture (gyps africanus)

It is a typical vulture with dense plumage on the body and only down or small scattered feathers on the neck and head. The latter because it inserts its head into the decomposing bodies with which it feeds.

It has a ring of white feathers at the base of the neck, whitish plumage, except for the lower half of the wings, which are black. It reaches a length of 98 cm and its open wings reach up to 2.25 m.

African marabou (Leptoptilos crumenifer)

This species of black stork feeds on carrion and also hunts small vertebrates and even large birds. They reach a height of 1.5 m with a wingspan of 3.2 m.

Its wings and back are black and the rest white, with a pink neck and head, without feathers. Like all wading birds, its legs are long and in this case white.

African wood stork or yellow-billed stork (mycteria ibis)

It is another species of stork that inhabits African savannahs in wetland areas where it wades through shallow water on its long red legs. It has faintly pink plumage on the back and white on the rest except for the black edges of the wings.

Its neck is covered with dense short white feathers, its head is orange and red and its beak is orange.

common egret (egretta garzetta)

This heron has a very wide global distribution, which includes African savannahs and wetlands. They reach about 65 cm in length and the extended wings reach 105 cm, presenting a completely white body.

A characteristic feature in the breeding period is that the adults show two long, narrow feathers projecting from the head backwards.

savannah reptiles

black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis)

It is one of the most poisonous snakes in the world reaching 3 m in length and being both terrestrial and arboreal. It has round black eyes and its skin is gray to dark brown, characterized by having the inside of its mouth bluish-black.

It is very fast in the attack, which can do it up to a great distance from its position, even taking several bites in rapid sequence.

african spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata)

This tortoise is the third largest in the world and the largest if only continental (non-island) tortoises are considered. Its shell reaches up to 85 cm long and weighs 100 kg.

It has yellowish-brown plates edged with dark brown, turning grayer with age. It owes its name to two large spurs that present the front part of the breastplate or lower part of the carapace.

Speke’s tortoise (Kinixys spekii)

It is another turtle that lives in African savannahs, in this case smaller, about 20 cm and with a hinge (joint) in its shell. The carapace or upper part of the carapace is elongated and somewhat flattened, with dark brown plates with light to yellowish edges.

savannah amphibians

It is a frog of humid savannahs in the Ivory Coast and also in drier savannahs in Benin. It is characterized by its elongated and somewhat flattened body, deep red on the back and black on the lower half, with black extremities.

It also sometimes shows a black line on the back and in stressful situations its color changes to gray. The females are larger than the males, reaching up to 60 mm in length and 16.7 g in weight.

African common toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis)

Females reach a length of 12 cm and males 9 cm, inhabiting a large…

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