Animal Life

Who lives in grasslands?

Grasslands are home to many of the world's grazing herbivores and fast moving predators that eat them. The most magnificent and impressive inhabitants of the African grassland savannas are hooved mammals like zebras, wildebeeste (gnus), antelopes, and buffalos.
All these grazers depend on grasses for food, but despite this, there is little competition between them. Each animal has its preferred species of grasses, and each likes to graze at a different height, so that different parts of the grass are eaten by different species.

Catch me if you can!
Life in the grasslands is dramatic, with hunter and hunted sharing the same space. Imagine you are a Thomson's gazelle in Africa's Serengeti Plains - one of the most famous grasslands in the world. In the vast and wide open plains, it is difficult for you to hide. So, how do you protect yourself from cheetahs and lions?
Hunters and scavengers
Hunters of the African grasslands need lightning speed, or cunning stealth, or a combination of both, to capture their prey. A cheetah's long stride and flexible back and limb joints help to make it the world's fastest mammal. It can reach a speed of 90 kph, but only over a short distance.

Unlike the cheetah, the lion relies on stealth and surprise rather than speed to catch its prey.

It sneaks up on a herd of wildebeeste and then makes a quick dash to grab one, usually a sick, old, or very young wildebeeste. Lions are rather lazy animals that spend much of the day sleeping under a tree. They sometimes feed on animals killed by other predators such as cheetahs and hyaenas.

Jackals, hyaenas and vultures are the cleaners of the African grasslands. Their job is to pick carcasses clean after the other predators have had their fill.

Big birds, small birds
There are 3 kinds of big, flightless birds found in grasslands on 3 different continents - the rhea in South America, the ostrich in Africa, and the emu in Australia. They eat grass leaves and flowers, as well as small animals such as insects, frogs and lizards.

The biggest bird that lives in European grasslands is the Great Bustard. Because natural grasslands are now so rare in Europe, there are very few Great Bustards left.

Smaller birds that live in grasslands include larks and pipits, plovers (lapwings), and seed-eating finches.

Cheetahs can reach speeds of 90 kph

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