The Sahara's amazing wildlife
Antelopes that survive without water, plants that
stay green without rain, fox with ears that radiate heat
and capture the tiniest sounds of an insect's feet.
The desert is not only beautiful but also
home of thousands plants and animals adapted
to life in very special part of our planet.
Antelopes are ruminant hoofed mammals of the family Bovidae in
the order of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla). Antelopes are
spread relatively evenly throughout the various subfamilies of
Bovidae and many are more closely related to cows or goats than
to each other. In the Sahara, there are two species of antelope: the
addax and the scimitar-horned oryx.
Gazelles are small to medium-sized bovids belonging to the sub-family
Antilopinae. They inhabit the deserts, grasslands
and savannas of Africa, southwest and central Asia, and the Indian
Subcontinent. They live in herds and eat easily digestible plants
and leaves. There are five Saharan gazelles, four smaller belonging
to the genus Gazella (dorcas, slender-horned, Cuvier’s and
red-fronted) and one belonging to the larger Nanger group (dama).
Lying at the interface between tropical Africa and temperate
Europe, the Sahara boasts an unexpectedly rich avifauna. Apart
from a surprisingly high number of resident breeding species, the
Sahara provides useful habitat for northern birds in the winter and
afrotropical birds during the summer. It is also a regular highway
for many migrants travelling between Africa and Eurasia twice a
Fox & Cats
With its abundance of gerbils, jerboas, beetles, scorpions and
lizards, the Sahara is blessed with an amazing variety of small
carnivores. All live largely nocturnal existences, finding respite
from the intense heat by burrowing. The ecology and behaviour
behind their ability to coexist is still largely unknown. Likewise,
their conservation status, with many species simply listed as “Data
Deficient” in the IUCN Red List.
The large carnivore community of the Sahara is unexpectedly rich
but as elsewhere in the world, suffers enormously from prejudice
and persecution. Most species are extremely rare, something
compounded by natural scarcity in relation to available prey.
Especially persecuted are striped hyenas and golden jackals, the
latter being responsible for the most part of smallstock losses.
Successfully resolving livestock predation issues is a cornerstone
to saving carnivores from extinction.