Endangered Species in the African Savanna

••• cheetah image by Henryk Olszewski from Fotolia.com

The African savanna is a huge expanse of grassland, spread across 27 different countries on the African continent, including Kenya and Tanzania. Home to many species of birds and mammals, the savanna is also used by humans for cattle grazing and hunting. Human interference and the destruction of animal habitats have resulted in several of the native animals of this area becoming endangered.

Grevy’s Zebra

Less than 2,000 or so of this breed of zebra were left in the wild in 2011, making the Grevy’s zebra the most threatened of any type of zebra, according to the Wildlife Extra website. Where more than 15,000 once lived in countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia, the Grevy’s zebra has been much reduced in population thanks to the disintegration of its natural habitat and hunting by humans. Disease and competition with other animals has added to the Grevy’s zebras' woes.

African Elephant

The savanna elephant, one of two distinct breeds of African elephant, was once commonly spotted all over the African continent, but the numbers of this animal left in the wild have been severely reduced. Statistics suggest that in the 1980s alone the population of African elephants fell from 1,300,000 to 750,000, as noted by the Smithsonian National Zoological Park website. This reduction is largely a result of humans hunting the elephant for its ivory, and a subsequent ban on this form of hunting has helped matters a little. The loss of grassland across Africa to human farming has also decreased African elephant numbers, forcing the animals to live mainly in nature reserves by 2011.

African Wild Dog

The African wild dog is also referred to as the Cape hunting dog, and is a pack-living carnivore with similarities to both other breeds of dog and the wolf. The African wild dog is treated by humans like a wolf, and has been hunted and driven away for years by farmers and until the late 20th century, even game rangers, resulting in this animal becoming the most endangered carnivore on the continent.

Black Rhino

This breed of rhino once existed in many parts of Africa, including Somalia and Namibia. In 2011, thanks largely to poaching by humans, the animal is mainly confined to four countries that include Kenya and Zimbabwe. South Africa has the largest population of black rhino, and programs designed to stabilize populations of black rhino in the country have meant that 40 percent of the animals are now found in South Africa. One of the sub-species of the black rhino, the south-western variety, has disappeared entirely, and was last spotted in Africa in 1853.

Cheetah

The cheetah is a big cat found in countries like Namibia. The African population of this animal has been reduced due largely in part to habitat loss as a result of humans taking over the cheetah’s hunting land for farming. Cheetahs also suffer from competition with other predators, such as hyenas, which attack cheetah cubs or eat the cheetahs' prey.

References

About the Author

Simon Fuller has been a freelance writer since 2008. His work has appeared in "Record Collector," "OPEN" and the online publication, brand-e. Fuller has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Reading and a postgraduate diploma from the London School of Journalism.

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