Earth is a collection of worlds within worlds, each one a self contained ecosystem bursting with life. These micro worlds depend on an intricate web of relationships and natural forces that make each one unique. One such famous geographical ecosystem is the Serengeti in Africa.
Serengeti is a vast grassland covering over 23,000 square kilometers. It’s a landscape exposed to unpredictable rains fires and even occasional droughts. It supports the greatest density of herbivores found anywhere in the world.
Equator and weather Located between a chain of volcanoes along its eastern border and the shores of lake Victoria to the west this micro world is a comparatively new yet complicated ecosystem on Earth. The close proximity of the Equator has a variety of effects on its weather and ecosystem. The rainfall not only varies drastically year on year, but also from the water north to the drier south. This unpredictability with the weather has a tangible effect on the Wildebeest. Produced by plenty of rain the long grass not only supports life of herbivores it also gives the loins a great advantage to hide as they stalk their prey.
Volcanoes What makes the serngeti special is the location of volcanoes on its eastern border. Of Dolnyo Lengal is an active volcano that first came to life half a million years ago and continues to regularly erupt. The volcano spews out hot lava, ash and burning gases from the Earth’s core. Over time more and more layers of nutrient rich volcanic ash have piled up and created a very unusual soil.
The combination of ash and rain has created something unique below the surface of the serngeti-it is a thick impenetrable crust that’s less than a meter below the surface called the Hard Pan.
Main from calcium carbonate it’s an hard as concrete and like a protective underground layer it covers the eastern grasslands. The thick surface allows only shallow roots preventing the growth of trees leaving the serengeti’s grasses to flourish unhindered
The wild species
Wildebeest:- there are an estimated 1.5 million wildebeest in Serengeti making it one of the largest congregations of a single species of mammal found anywhere on Earth. Wildebeest means wild cattle. But actually these creatures are antelope and not cows. The massive herds constantly move around the entire Serengeti system driven by the need of food.
Lions are the largest predators in Africa and they’re a constant threat to the heards of wildebeest. Unlike other feline predators these lions are social hunting together cooperatively as a ‘pride’. It is believed that their social behavior evolved so that they could hunt in a team.
Crocodiles:- Nearly six meters in length African rivers hide a real danger in the face of Nile crocodiles. These huge reptiles wait for the wildebeest herd to cross the rivers so that they can hunt.
The great migration:- The hard panholds the key to the inner workings of the sregeti system. Following the annual rains the parched grassland of Serengeti momentarily flushes green and draws in the greatest concentration of large animals on the planet. Over two million wildebeest zebra and Thomson’s gazelle undergo an epic journey to graze here.
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Courtesy THE HINDU YOUNG WORLD