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African Savanna Lesson for Kids: Facts & Habitat

Instructor: Michelle Jones

Michelle has taught at the elementary level and has earned a master's degree.

The savanna biome covers about half of the continent of Africa, and there are certain plants and animals unique to this part of the world. This lesson describes the features of this important biome.

The African Savanna

What do you get when you cross a desert with a rainforest? A unique environment called a tropical grassland, which is a large area of grasses with a few bushes and trees. In Africa, these tropical grasslands are called savannas, and they have a rainforest on one side and desert on the other.

Most of us go to a zoo to see animals such as zebras, lions, and giraffes, but millions of people travel to Africa to see these and other fascinating animals in their natural habitat. Let's explore what it would be like to be on an African safari.

African savannas are mostly covered with grass.
picture of savanna

Climate

I hope you brought shorts and short-sleeved shirts because the weather is warm all year long. Temperatures here have a small range from 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may or may not need an umbrella. Very little rain falls during the dry season, which occurs in the winter (December, January, February). Because of the dry conditions, you are more likely to see a fire from lightning this time of year. The savanna gets most of its 10-30 yearly inches of rain during the rest of the year, called the wet season.

Plants

The first thing you'll notice as you set out on your adventure is the wide-open land. African savannas are covered with several different types of grasses, growing in clumps with bare ground in between. Some grasses, like elephant grass, can grow as high as 10 feet! The small amount of rain results in only a few shrubs and trees.

The plants that grow here must be tough to survive fires and dry conditions. Some have thick bark for protection from fire, deep roots to reach water, and the ability to store water for long periods of time. Others die off in the winter and regrow in the spring.

Acacia trees are common in the savanna.
picture of acacia tree

Animals

Animals in the African savanna depend on the plants for food and water. Many of these animals are herbivores, or plant eaters. This includes giraffes, zebras, and elephants. Walking through the savanna, you might see a giraffe eating from the top of an acacia tree. You will also see carnivores like lions, hyenas, and leopards, although they may be hiding in the tall grass waiting for their next meal to walk by.

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