What Animals Live in the African Grassland?

African elephants are the largest mammals in the African grasslands.
African elephants are the largest mammals in the African grasslands. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The African grasslands are located in the semi-arid steppes of north-central Africa, and the wetter grasslands, or veldts, of East Africa and Madagascar. These areas are windy seas of grass with very few trees and shrubs. The grassland is home to many animals ranging from reptiles to large mammals. While the steppes are hot and dry, the veldts are also hot but receive more rainfall.


Many types of reptiles enjoy the hot weather, vegetation and abundance of small rodents in the African grasslands, and they have become well adapted to the conditions. Monitor lizards, turtles, pythons, and cobras are a few of the many reptiles that dwell in these grasslands. The leopard tortoise is another reptile that inhabits the grasslands, along with many other types of turtles. Crocodiles can often be found in rivers and various pools of waters around the grassland, feasting on small mammals and birds that come to drink from the water.


The African grasslands are home to some of the most colorful and exotic birds in the world. Some species are very tiny, while others stand taller than the average man. The birds that inhabit the grasslands include vultures, red-billed oxpeckers, and ostriches. The open sky and abundance of bugs and other foods make the grasslands an ideal home for these animals. Oxpeckers are brown mockingbird-sized birds that have bright red eyes with red and yellow bills. They are usually found on the backs of large mammals, feasting on the many bugs there. Vultures thrive on the leftovers of kills made by cheetahs and lions on the open grasslands.

Small and Medium-Sized Mammals

Lions, cheetahs, hyenas and meerkats are amongst the small and medium-sized animals found in the grasslands of Africa. These animals are fast and thrive in this environment. The open grassland is ideal for their hunting methods. Unlike most of the large herbivorous mammals, these smaller mammals are carnivores. Some of the animals are often small enough to hide in the tall grass when hunting. Their strong quick legs help them to run and catch prey that have no trees or shrubs to hide in.

Large Mammals

The African grassland is home to many large mammals including the elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and zebra. With very few trees and shrubs to hide in, these animals rely on their size and strength to help protect them from predators. Many of the large mammals cannot run very fast to escape predators so they also rely on their family groups to stay vigilant. The giraffe, zebra, African elephant and other large mammals feed on grass and plants and do not need speed to catch their food.

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