Sudanian Savannas

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African elephant (Loxodonta africana) herd with Kilimanjaro mountain in the background. Amboseli National Park, Kenya.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

About the Area

This unique area contains a great diversity of plants and mammals, found nowhere else in the world. The Sudanese savannas comprise large expanses of acacia woodland areas. Most of the trees here are deciduous, characterized by an understory of grasses, shrubs, and herbs.

The ecoregion occupies just a portion of a larger area identified as a center of diversity for plants, and hence significant for plant conservation.

Given the pronounced dry season, there is a large seasonal migration of animals, in addition to the visitation by large numbers of migrant birds on the Afrotropical-Palaearctic flyway. Reichenow's firefinches and the Niam-Niam parrots are found here and nowhere else.
Size:
917,581 sq. km (354,278 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands

Geographic Location:
Central and Southern Africa - Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Nigeria, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Local Species
Selected species include the mouse (Mus goundae), Reichenow's firefinch (Lagonosticta umbrinodorsalis), Eastern giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus gigas), roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus), and lewel hartebeest (Damaliscus lunatus lelwel).

The giant eland is the largest antelope in Africa, standing more than 1.8 meters (6 ft) tall and weighing more than 1,000 kg (2.2 tons). They can run more than 70 kph (42 mph) and are great jumpers - easily clearing more than 1.5 meters (5 ft).

Featured species

 / ©: WWF-Canon / Frederick J. WEYERHAEUSER
Roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus).
© WWF-Canon / Frederick J. WEYERHAEUSER
Roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) is the 2nd largest antelope species. Their pelage is grayish-brown with a hint of red. The legs are darker than the rest of the body. Young roan antelope are much lighter and reddish-brown. Males are larger and built more sturdily than females, with longer, thicker horns. Males weigh from 260-300 kg. Females weigh from 225-275 kg.

Dominant males mate with the females in their herd and actively defend access to those females. They are mainly active during the cooler parts of the day, in the morning and evening. Herd sizes generally number 12-15, consisting of the dominant male, females and their young. Roan antelope are grazers that prefer leaves over stems and are never far from a source of water.

They are listed as vulnerable by IUCN.

Read more:
Threats
Significant loss of original wooded savanna habitats has occurred in this ecoregion, but large blocks of relatively intact habitat remain even outside protected areas.

Threats include seasonal shifting cultivation, over-grazing by livestock, logging, burning for charcoal, uncontrolled wild fires, trophy hunting and climatic desiccation. Hunting has depleted populations of large mammals. For example, rhinos once thrived here, but have disappeared due to poaching.

WWF’s work
WWF’s aim in Central and Southern Africa is the conservation of species through working with local stakeholders to preserve natural resources and biodiversity. One ongoing project focuses on the Northern Sudanian Savanna network of protected areas. The project aims to ensure the use of natural resources is sustainable and of benefit to the local community.

Achievements to date include the establishment of effective management plans for national parks, improved land use agreements with local people, and the launch of reforestation and environmental education programme.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Olivier VAN BOGAERT
A logging truck is being checked by forest guards in south-east Cameroon.
© WWF-Canon / Olivier VAN BOGAERT

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