Endangered Species in the Savanna Biome

Savanna ecosystems are those dominated ecologically by grasses and forbs, and visually by widely spaced trees. They're broadly distributed around the world, encompassing both tropical savannas of South America, Africa, Asia and Australia; and temperate versions, such as the pine savannas of North America's Intermountain West. These special ecosystems, fragile in the face of climate change and human activity, harbor a number of endangered species.

  1. Black Rhinoceros

    • All the subspecies of black rhino are endangered.
      All the subspecies of black rhino are endangered.

      This horned behemoth is native to savannas, woodlands and scrublands of central and southern Africa. Beset in recent centuries by overhunting and poaching, black rhinos are now critically endangered. The World Wildlife Fund reports that between 1970 and 1992, the black rhino global population fell by 96 percent. The white rhino -- a larger species of rhinoceros -- also inhabits Africa. As of the early 21st century, it was recovering notably from earlier declines. The two rhinos are distinguished by the shape of their lips: The browsing black rhino has a hook-shaped lip, while the grazing white rhino has a lip that's flat-edged and broad. Black rhinos can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour when charging, and may travel for miles each day to access water sources.

    African Wild Dog

    • The African wild dog is one of Africa's most imperiled carnivores.
      The African wild dog is one of Africa's most imperiled carnivores.

      The African wild dog is another endangered species found in Africa's extensive and varied savanna habitats, and is one of the continent's most efficient carnivores. Its unique, patchy coat pattern gives it the nickname "painted wolf," and, like the gray wolves, they hunt hoofed mammals in a communal fashion. The reasons for their severe decline in numbers are many, but include habitat loss, killing by livestock producers afraid for their animals, and diseases spread by domestic dogs.

    Golden-cheeked Warbler

    • A flashy, colorful songbird, the golden-cheeked warbler nests only in the savannas and woodlands of Edwards Plateau in Texas and adjacent regions. The Edwards Plateau savannas of juniper, oak, mesquite and acacia have been greatly reduced by development, agriculture and other land-use changes, so the warbler, which relies on the region for its nesting habitat, is now endangered. This far-traveling bird spends the winter in Mexico and Central America, and breeds in Texas between March and July.

    Blue-throated Macaw

    • This striking parrot, handsomely plumaged in blue and yellow, lives only in the isolated palm groves of the Llanos de Moxos savannas of Bolivia. This mosaic of grasslands, scattered heavy timber and seasonal wetlands is drained by the headwater tributaries of the Madeira River, which eventually empties into the great Amazon. BirdLife International suggests that fewer than 250 adult blue-throated macaws may exist in the wild today. In addition to development threats to their naturally limited range, they have been threatened by the pet trade.

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  • Photo Credit savanna 1 image by Bruce Hewitson from Fotolia.com Black Rhinoceros image by Daniel Mortell from Fotolia.com wild dog image by Xavier MARCHANT from Fotolia.com

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