African savannah

In Africa, the savannahs are classed according to the arboreal and shrubby species that live there. Generally the trees are 6 to 12 metres tall, apart from the peculiar African baobab. This tree can be up to 30 metres tall and have a circumference of over 40 metres and a diameter of 10 metres at the base of its trunk. The prevailing baobab in Africa is the Adansonia digitata, which lives to an impressively old age: between 1,000 and perhaps 6,000 years. It is shaped like a bottle and its trunk traps over 120,000 litres of water within its tissues. Acacias (Acacia spp.) are the most numerous trees in this biome, with approximately 40 species, i.e. one half of the trees that live there. One of the most typical acacias is the Acacia tortilis with its typical flattened, umbrella-shaped foliage. There are also other trees, such as the Brachystegia, which produces the so-called “miombo” woods or savannahs, where there are as many trees as in a wood, even if sparse and full of clearings.
Animals of the African savannah
In Africa, there are approximately 100 species of wild bovids, 72 of which are endemic; antelopes alone make up 55 species. The African savannah is inhabited by approximately one third of the world’s felines, such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, servals, three different species of hyenas, three of jackals and hyena-dogs.
The savannah is also home to some terricolous birds (great bustards, galliformes, etc.), such as the ostrich which is the biggest and can reach 2.5 m tall, but cannot fly. A peculiarity is that the male lives in harems of three or four females, but mates first and most often with a favourite female (dominant or alpha female). Then all females lay their eggs together in a hole in the ground and the eggs of the favourite female are laid in the middle; the favourite female and the male will look after the eggs until hatched. The eggs in the middle of the nest will be best protected from predators, which are quicker to reach the outer ones.
Other birds living here are some weaver passerines (Ploceidae), which built nests hanging from acacia and baobab branches, and different species of vultures which are the main class of flying necrophagous animals (that feed on dead animals) specialised in finding carcasses of dead animals.
The savannahs play a key role in ornithology (the science that deals with birds). During the boreal and austral winter, many species of birds, especially insectivores (feeding on insects), fly away from the cold and migrate sometimes hundreds of kilometres away. Billions of birds move from Europe and western Asia to Africa, where they can benefit from the mild climate and availability of insects. Swallows and European swifts are a typical example of such migrations.
Bushveld
The African savannahs south of the Equator, i.e. in such countries as South-Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, etc., are known as bushveld and are home to the Acacia, Combretum, Mopane (Colophospermum mopane) and baobab trees. In the south, it is the Acacia erioloba or Giraffe Acacia that dominates the landscape. In the driest areas, the bushveld becomes the thornveld, which has fewer trees but plenty of spiny shrubs. In this area, the fauna is the same as in the African savannah.

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