3 Animals Species And How They Adapt To Their Environment Flora and Fauna of the Sahara

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Flora and Fauna of the Sahara

The Sahara is the largest desert in the world, covering areas from Mauritania, Western Sahara, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt. It also covers parts of Sudan, Libya, Chad and Mali; plus, part of Morocco and Tunisia. The name “Sahara” comes from the Tuareg language (a local tribe) “tenere”, which means “desert”.

Despite seasonal rainfall, the Sahara remains very dry. Rivers run through the region, but only the Nile and Niger rivers are permanent. The rest is created by occasional rainfall and becomes dry when the weather changes. Oases can be found in some areas where there are underground aquifers.

Thousands of years ago, based on petroglyphs found on rocks and artifacts in the area, the Sahara had more moisture and life than it does now. Currently, the Sahara is getting bigger in coverage. The Sahara is said to be expanding up to 30 miles a year.

Global warming and agriculture are the reasons for this phenomenon. Despite this condition, some species of plants and animals have learned to adapt to the harsh environment.

Fauna of the Sahara

The most domesticated animals of the Sahara are goats and dromedary camels. Due to their endurance and speed, dromedary camels are the favorite animals of nomads.

The “deathstalker” scorpion (Leirurus quinquestriatus) is also one of the living organisms that survive in the desert. Its venom is very dangerous, but rarely kills a healthy adult.

Monitor lizards, sand vipers, fennec foxes, hyrax and the ostrich, a flightless bird that have become rare, can still be found in the region. Addax, a large white antelope that has become an endangered species can also be found here. In fact, Addax is fully adapted to desert conditions and can stay there for months, even a whole year, without drinking.

Saharan cheetahs are very cautious animals that flee from human presence, with only a few hundred remaining in its population.

Birds that can be seen flying in the skies of the Sahara are the black-throated fire thread and the African silver among other species. Bird species already number more than 300.

Other animal life in the Sahara includes wild gazelles, antelopes, jackals, foxes, badgers and hyena gerbil, as well as jerboa, cape hare, desert hedgehog, barbary sheep and onyx. Here you will also find some deer, wild donkey, baboon, sand fox, weasel and mongoose.

Desert eagle owls, large brown and white birds called Houbara bustards camouflage themselves under sand and rocks as they search for rodents and lizards.

Addax and oryx antelopes are among the most threatened species of all desert wildlife due to hunting.

An important species in the eco-region is the scarab beetle. It is believed in ancient Egyptian mythology that these insects are associated with new life and rebirth. Scarab beetles thrive in the Sahara desert to this day.

Many desert animals forage at night because of the cooler temperatures. It is more convenient for them to hunt without the scorching heat of the desert sun.

Flora of the Sahara

Considering the wide coverage of the region, the flora species of the central Sahara desert are estimated to include only more or less than 500 species. Most of them belong to xerophytes and ephemeral plants (locally called Acheb), with halophytes in more humid areas.

A variety of succulents, lichens and shrubs can be found throughout Mauritania and the Western Sahara. They are maintained by areas created by moisture on the Atlantic Coast. Other vegetation includes patches of grasses, shrubs and scattered trees which are found mainly in the highlands, also in oases and near riverbeds. Some plant species are completely adapted to the climate. It can even sprout within 3 days of rain and spread its seeds within 2 weeks after that.

Dates, corn and fruit are also grown in the more or less 200,000 square kilometers of the fertile Sahara Oases. These few fertile regions are fed by underground rivers and ponds which can be found in depressions (areas below sea level) and artesian wells.

In general, in addition to the already inhospitable environment of the desert, the flora and fauna also feel the increasing pressure of time. Ongoing climate change and human exploitation of the desert add to this pressure.

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