In Sub-Saharan Africa, that is to say in that part of the continent that is located under the Equator, the climate and especially the rains have allowed the development of a very special place: the savannah.
Imagine a vast plain of grass where strange trees with the shape of an umbrella sprout here and there or from whose branches dangle huge berries that look like giant sausages. You have just imagined ACACIAS and SAUSAGE TREES, two of the most characteristic plants of the this place. In Tanzania there is a very famous and fascinating one: the Serengeti. The name of this park comes from a Maasai word, the language of a nomadic people who live nearby. The word is siringet and it means ‘infinite plain’. And the Serengeti is truly an infinite plain: it is gigantic. During the rainy season it is green and lush, while in the dry season everything has a more arid and bare air and even some animals leave. Thousands of zebras and wildebeests walk hundreds of kilometers in search of fresh water and pastures. A terrible effort and it is not over here.
When they arrive at the border with the Masai Mara park in Kenya where they are headed, they have one last test to face: the passage of the Mara river, infested with ravenous crocodiles, ready to feast.
Many do not make it, many do. To see this show you have to wait for September and get on the river bank: it’s incredible!
When the herds go away from the Serengeti, life becomes difficult for those who remain. The other herbivores suffer, predators have difficulty finding food and hunting becomes aggressive.
In the Serengeti live all the big five: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and black rhino. Five extraordinary and less and less numerous animals, above all the almost extinct rhino. Why? Unfortunately, he is hunted for its horn. Fortunately, Tanzania has started a repopulation program for this beautiful and shy mammal, but the process is slow. Think that a mother rhino has a single puppy every two years!!
And let’s not forget the giraffes, these strange animals with very long necks that roam the savannah: beautiful, elegant, shy.
Among the high grasses of the Southern plains of the Serengeti there is often a beautiful and delicate feline: the cheetah. It is easily recognizable: it is slender, with an elongated body and has two characteristic black lines on the muzzle that resemble two large tears. Why is it easier to see it on the plains? Because on flat ground it manages to develop all its power, which is speed. It can reach 70 km/hour. Sure, it can’t keep it long, but it’s really a thunderbolt!! It also has another feature: it has non-retractable claws. What does it mean? It means that claws always remain outside and this creates many problems in climbing trees. The footprints of this animal are for this reason very well detectable.
To give you an idea of how many dangerous but fascinating animals can be found in the savannah, hippos must also be added to our list. They live in water in large groups and are very very very aggressive. They soak all day and come out of the water often at night to eat. Their secret? They have no fur and with the sun of the Equator they risk burning during the day, that’s why they cool off in the water.
In the Serengeti you can also take a hot air balloon excursion: an hour’s flight at the right height to see from above, but from very close, this extraordinary world called the savannah.
And now the challenge of the day: can you draw all the animals and footprints you saw in this article?