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The Animals of Africa

Africa is a huge continent that’s made up of many different habitats, including sand, rock, water and grass. Each of those habitats is the perfect place for all sorts of cool creatures to live. Get to know some of the awesome animals of Africa!

Rock: The Ethiopian Highlands

Millions of years ago a volcano erupted and made a huge dome 620 miles wide. This mountain range is called the Ethiopian Highlands. During the rainy season, many rare animals feed off the grass and plants that grow among the rocks.

  • Ethiopian Wolf: This carnivore (meat-eater) lives in pairs or small groups. Every morning the pack gathers for a noisy greeting ceremony. Then they start hunting for small mammals to eat during the day. Their long, thin snouts (noses) are perfect for sniffing out rats. These wolves are only found in Ethiopia, and there are only 500 left in the wild.
  • Gelada Baboon: With the strongest fingers of any primate, this baboon is a great climber and lives in grass-eating groups of up to 800 baboons. At night, they sleep together on rocky cliffs to avoid predators.
  • Walia Ibex: This rare goat species grazes in groups, so they can alert each other if there’s any sign of danger. Their rubbery hooves have hollow middles that act like suction cups to help the walia jump between rocks.

  • Grass: The Savanna

    Grass is the main plant of the Savanna’s ecosystem. This grass provides food for the hundreds of species of herbivores (plant-eaters) that roam across the African Savanna.

  • Red-Billed Quelea: This small bird has a huge effect on its habitat. The birds cluster in flocks that can number in the thousands. At dawn, the flock searches for seeds and, by sunset, some farmers may find themselves without any crops left!
  • Wildebeest: Also called gnus, herds of wildebeest start migrating across Africa in May, walking up to 2,000 miles every single year. Throughout their trip, the animals’ hooves spread grass seeds and fertilize the ground, feeding birds and bugs.
  • Hyena: These carnivores leave their cubs at home for as long as four days at a time to find food. Hyenas can digest even the toughest parts of an animal, leaving behind few scraps for scavengers.

  • Sand: The Deserts

    Africa is home to the largest desert on earth – the Sahara. It’s also home to the Namib Desert and the Kalahari. The climate is harsh, with high air temperatures and little rain. Animals in the desert have adapted to survive this tough environment.

  • Dromedary Camel: These camels store fat, not water, in their one humps, and can survive for days without anything to drink. But once they find water, dromedaries can gulp down 30 gallons in just a few minutes – a trick that would kill other animals. Dromedaries have furry ears, hairy nostrils and two layers of long, curly eyelashes any girl would KILL for! During a desert sandstorm, which can raise up walls of dust a mile high, dromedaries shut their ears, noses and eyes.
  • Augrabies Flat Lizard: These lizards live along the Orange River, which flows through the Kalahari Desert. Because the river attracts so many bugs and flies, the lizards can catch up to 17 flies per minute! At sunset, these cold-blooded reptiles squeeze between rocks, where it’s still warm.
  • South African Onyx: Also called a gemsbok, these animals move across the Namib desert in herds of 10-30. When a predator approaches, the herd circles its calves with horns facing out. To survive the heat, the onyx can make itself stop sweating in order to conserve water.
  • Namib Lion: These lions have adapted to the desert environment by absorbing almost all the moisture they need from their prey, the Oryx. In fact, desert lions can survive for two or three weeks without drinking water.
  • Namib Elephant: Africa’s largest herbivore survives in the desert by digging deep to find juicy, succulent plant roots. Their smaller bodies save water and their large ears are filled with blood vessels that spread the heat around their bodies evenly to keep the elephants cool as they search for new water holes.

  • Water: The Rivers

    During the dry season, herds of animals walk miles to find water. Africa is home to the planet’s largest freshwater lakes: Malawi, Tanganyika and Victoria It’s also home to the longest river in the world, the Nile.

  • Nile Crocodile: These crocs can grow up to 16 feet long, and like to hide along the river’s edge, waiting for dinner to walk their way. Even so, it can take a crocodile up to an hour to drown a powerful Wildebeest.
  • Chacma Baboon: These scavengers eat fruit, bugs and seeds. They are the largest and heaviest baboon species in the world. It’s hard for them to walk upright, but they must do it in order to cross a flooded river. In fact, no member of the group, young or old, would ever be left behind.

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    Author's note: This is just something quick that I whipped up, and I thought someone might enjoy it. I'll try to put up the ending in a few days, but don't count on it unless I'm reminded enough. If you have edits or whatever, comment. Okay, here it is: The bullhorn had sounded at the third hour of the shadow’s presence. A dark shape on the horizon, first noticed at dawn, and mad clear be the rising of the sun. The people were frightened, and the king was forced to make a decision. “I will fight it myself!” “My young lord, although I respect your decision, it would be horribly foolish for the last of the royal line to waste his life on a foolish attempt, and to die a death meant only for fools.” The advisor was cold, stern as he looked at the very young king. He sighed to himself. The boy was too young to be crowned. “I would advise you to send the only other people in this kingdom who have experience in such matters.” The boy puffed out his cheeks and crossed his arms, looking away from the advisor. “I need to prove to my subjects that I am a brave king!” He stood up as he said this, but the huge crown on his head was driven down over his eyes by the movement. It didn’t help him much. “I could do it! I will do it!” “My lord. I do not wish to enforce the command your late parents gave me.” The advisor’s eyes were showing a rare emotion for him: frustration. “But, I highly advise that you send the wizard and his apprentice.” Turning away, the advisor handed a written order to the guard, then looked back at the “king.” A slight twinkle of amusement was now shown from his usually cold, grey eyes. “I also highly advise that you retire for the afternoon. You seem to be getting cranky without your nap.” The remaining guard began escorting the boy out of the room, who was struggling as much as he could. “That’s not fair! You can’t use my guards against me! It’s not even 12:00!” ________________________ The wizard bent close to the paper. “Ah, so he finally remembered me?” “No, he has always remembered you. This is simply the first situation there has been need of you.” The words were uncertain, shaky, and the guard was inspecting the ceiling intently. “That is what he told you to say, isn’t it? Well, never mind. Samuel! Come to the front! We’re doing something today!” The wizard grabbed a staff from the corner, and when his hand laid on the withered wood, he seemed to straighten up. The dark room was suddenly illuminated as the door was flung open to the sunshine. Dust flew everywhere from the breeze, and the wizard stood in the doorway. “Samuel! Wake up, or I’ll come in there and pull you out of bed myself! By your ears!” Finally, a staggering figure with a small satchel on his shoulder and ratty clothes came beside the wizard. “What is it, Grey?” “I told you to not call me that! ‘Ebenezer’ will do, as it’s my name. But, Samuel, we will finally be able to put your skills to the test!” “I don’t have any skills.” The boy smirked, but the humorous tone was underlined with sincerity. “Nonsense boy!” Ebenezer slapped him across the back. “You’ve been one of my best students!” “Aren’t I… your second apprentice?” “True, true, but your still the best! Now, off! To fight the beast!” The wizard whistled, and a few faint “clops” came from behind the old house. “Wait, you were being serious? We’re fighting something?!?” A small white pony emerged, and the boy took it by the harness and began putting a few saddle-bags on it, full of strong-smelling herbs and various other items. He was working much faster than usual, before he paused. “Wait, this isn’t one of your ‘training assessments’, is it? 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Ebenezer propped himelf up with his staff. “And what are you?” His voice was now empowered, and Samuel was stunned that his master could produce such menacing tones. “I… am a…”
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