Africa is one of the most varied continents on the planet. There is nowhere else quite like Africa on earth. Africa has deserts, rainforests, lakes, mountains and coastal environments. It is a place to live to be proud of.
WHAT IS A SAVANNA?
A savanna is a large area of grass and trees. The trees are far enough apart that there is no ‘canopy.’ A canopy is when tree branches overlap to create a roof-like structure. Because there is no canopy, sunlight can reach the ground. This means lots of grasses can grow. The savanna has warm temperatures all year round. It has lots of rain in summer. There are savannas all over the world in hot countries. There are savannas in Australia, Africa and South America.
Amazing wildlife lives in savannas in Africa. Many people come to Africa to see these animals, so we should conserve them. In migration season lots of animals are moving to find new grass. Hundreds of animals run across the savanna. This is a beautiful sight that Africa should be proud to have. There are not many places on earth that have such varied wildlife and landscapes.
All animals rely on each other in the savanna and all other environments. At watering holes you can see big herds grazers (animals that eat grass) of zebra, antelope, elephants and giraffes. They all get along and do not cause harm to each other.
When people think of savannas, they think of acacia trees. There is the smaller Senegal gum acacia tree. There is also the taller umbrella thorn acacia tree. These trees can survive freezing temperatures at night and very hot temperatures during the day. Both of these trees have adaptations to these conditions. They have long roots that can absorb water from deep underground. They also have thick bark around their trunk to resist the yearly fires.
THREATS TO THE SAVANNA
- Hunting. Hunting wild animals is not good for anyone. The savanna needs big animals such as lions to eat other animals. Otherwise there will be too many animals such as zebras and wildebeest and they will eat too much grass! Then all the grasses in the savanna will disappear. Many tourists also pay to come and see these beautiful animals like elephants and lions.
- Desertification. Savannas are usually right next to deserts. Desertification is when deserts expand and the area next to it becomes a desert. Each year over 46 000 square kilometres of African savanna becomes desert. This is not good as animals can not graze in a desert. Plants cannot grow as well as it is drier and hotter.
- Big scale farms. Many parts of the savanna is being used for growing crops such as maize on a big scale. This reduces the number of different plants and animals in the savanna.
- Education. Education is so important in telling everyone how amazing African savannas are. No other continent has such large areas of grassland. Teaching people how to protect the soil and how not to over-graze the land is needed.
- Planting trees around the desert. By planting trees at the edge of the desert. They act as wind stoppers. This stops the sand from blowing into the savanna and expanding the desert.
- Provide alternatives to hunting. Wildlife tourism is a much more ethical alternative to hunting. By conserving the animals and encouraging tourists to see the beautiful animals and landscapes in Africa, then many jobs will be provided. It also means the animals will be safer. Protecting villages from elephants and lions can be done without hunting these animals. Small fires around the village will help deter the animals.