Animals of the steppe

The wide prairies of the steppe are the kingdom of large herbivores which often migrate far away in search of new pastures. Because of the lack of hiding places and the need to migrate, many herbivores of the steppe have grown to a huge size, have exceptionally adjusted to running and have very sharp senses. The typical herbivores of the steppe are: the European and North-American bison, the horse, native to Asian steppes, the pronghorn that lives in North-American prairies, and the guanaco , relative to camels and living in the Argentine steppes. Along with the guanaco, the pampas deer, a small cervid of the same size as a roe deer, also lives in south American pampas.
The bison
The bison is perhaps the most typical herbivore of the steppe. Until last century, there were two species of bison: the European bison and the north-American bison. The European bison is the biggest mammal in Europe. It is coated in thick, woolly fur, has a short and thick neck, a low and large forehead and upturned horns. Today, the European bison has almost disappeared, decimated by hunting and by the disappearance of its habitat. Only few hundreds of heads survive.
The North-American bison is one of the biggest mammals on earth. It can weigh over one hundred kilos and reach 180 cm tall. Until the mid-nineteenth century, huge herds of bison used to run through the prairies of north-America. Unfortunately, the fierce persecution carried out by planters and white hunters since the mid-nineteenth century has led this magnificent animal to the brink of extinction. Today, this species is recovering thanks to protection plans and to the establishment of wide reserves.


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