Grassland Facts



  • Tropical grasslands are home to vast herds of grazing animals such as antelope and buffalo — and to the lions, cheetahs and other big cats that prey on them.
  • There are few places to hide on the grasslands, so most grassland animals are fast runners with long legs.
  • Pronghorn can manage 67 km/h for 16 km.
  • There are more than 60 species of antelope on the grasslands of Africa and southern Asia.
  • A century ago in South Africa, herds of small antelopes called springboks could be as large as 10 million strong and hundreds of kilometres long.
  • Cheetahs are the fastest runners in the world, reaching 110 km/h in short bursts.
  • The white rhino can weigh over 3.5 tonnes. The ‘white’ does not refer to the colour, which is pale grey. It means `wide’ from the broad snout.
  • Grazing animals are divided into artiodactyls and perrisodactyls, according to how many toes they have.
  • Artiodactyls have an even number of toes on each foot. They include camels buffalo, deer, antelope and cattle.
  • Perrisodactyls have an odd number of toes. They include horses, rhinos and tapirs.
  • The springbok gets its name from its habit of springing 3 m straight up in the air.
  • Tropical grasslands are regions in the tropics where there is not enough rain half the year for trees to grow.
  • Grasses in tropical grasslands tend to grow taller and faster than grasses in cooler regions.
  • Grass stalks may be eaten by grazing animals, burned by bush fires or dry out, but roots survive underground.
  • In Africa grasses include 3-m-tall elephant grasses. In Australia, they include tall spear grass and shorter kangaroo grass. In South America, there are plants called bunch grasses and species such as briza.
  • Most tropical grasslands are scattered with bushes, shrubs and trees. In Africa, hardy broad-leaved trees such as curatella and byrsonima are typical.
  • Many grassland trees are said to be sclerophyllous. This means they have tough leaves and stems to save water.
  • In drier regions trees such as acacias are armed with spines to protect them against plant-eating animals. The thorns can be up to 50 cm long.
  • In damper places palm trees often take the place of the thorn trees.
  • Baobab trees are East African trees with massive trunks up to 9 m across which act as giant water stores.
  • Baobab trees look so odd that an Arab legend says the devil turned them upside down so their roots stuck up in the air.
  • The African baobab has a trunk so wide that 30 people holding hands could just about make a circle around it.
  • In East Africa, the grassland is called savanna, and this name is often used for tropical grassland in other parts of the world.
  • Tropical grasslands are regions in the tropics where there is not enough rain half the year for trees to grow.
  • Grasses in tropical grasslands tend to grow taller and faster than grasses in cooler regions.
  • Grass stalks may be eaten by grazing animals, burned by bush fires or dry out, but roots survive underground. Plant habitats
  • In Africa grasses include 3-m-tall elephant grasses. In Australia, they include tall spear grass and shorter kangaroo grass. In South America, there are plants called bunch grasses and species such as briza.
  • Most tropical grasslands are scattered with bushes, shrubs and trees. In Africa, hardy broad-leaved trees such as curatella and byrsonima are typical.
  • Many grassland trees are said to be sclerophyllous. This means they have tough leaves and stems to save water.
  • In drier regions trees such as acacias are armed with spines to protect them against plant-eating animals. The thorns can be up to 50 cm long.
  • In damper places palm trees often take the place of the thorn trees.