About one-quarter of the planet is covered with grasslands, which can provide a fertile habitat for life if they receive enough rain. The grasslands of Africa are known as savannahs, and provide a home for some of the best-known species of animals in the world, including elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras and rhinos. Although the tropical forests of Africa are home to many kinds of monkeys, only three types live in the savannah.
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As the term "grassland" suggests, the main vegetation in the African savannah is grass. The area does not receive enough rain to grow many bigger plants or trees; however, there is not so little rain that the area becomes a desert. The savannahs are in a tropical region where the climate is warm year-round, and has a wet season and a dry season.
Also known as Nisnas, red, Hussar, or military monkeys, Patas monkeys are unusual among primates because they can run at speeds of up to 35mph. This is very useful for evading predators, because they tend to live on the ground. One monkey always stays on the lookout for danger. The diet of the Patas monkeys includes seeds, grass, insects and fruit -- even the prickly pear cactus if it is available. These monkeys tend to live in mainly female groups of up to 30 or 35 individuals. Each group has one male, but a female monkey is in charge.
The Vervet is also known as the green monkey, and is one of the most widespread monkey species in Africa. They live in woodlands as well as the savannah, from the Sudan and Senegal in the north to South Africa. These monkeys generally live in bigger groups, up to about 75 monkeys, and the groups tend to be made up of females related by blood. Vervets sleep in trees at night, and have a complex collection of calls that include a different cautionary noise for each type of predator. Their diet is omnivorous, and includes fruit, grass, seeds, insects and birds' eggs.
Four species of baboons live in the African savannah: the olive, yellow, chacma and guinea baboons. They tend to live in very large groups made up of a mixture of males and females, sometimes numbering more than 200 individuals. There is a hierarchy within the group, but the males decide on the group's movements. Although baboons are omnivorous, they are strong animals with big teeth, and can be fearsome fighters if the need arises. The males attempt to ward off predators by lining up and showing their teeth in an aggressive display.
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