High year-round temperature and abundan rainfall provide ideal conditions for plant growth. Central Africa possesses these ideal conditions. As a result, this equatorial region is a land of vast, tropical rain forest. Its hundreds of species of trees include such valuable hardwoods as ebony and mahogany. The dense tropical forest provide fine homes for monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas and a variety of births. Throughout the tropical lowlands roam gnu (large African antelope), buffalo and wild pigs. Beyond the tropical rain forests of Central Africa is grassland.
In north and south of the equatorial region the climate is drier and there is gradual change from forest to grassland. The wetter parts of the grassland are dotted with trees. This tree-dotted grassland is called savanna. Some of the coarse grass of the savanna grow to be twice as much as the height of a human being. It is very difficult to travel in such areas expect by cutting paths through the grass.
A savanna is a home of great herds of animals-antelope of many varieties, zebra, giraffes, elephants, and rhinoceroses. It is also the home of meat eaters-lions, leopards and hyenas-which feed on the grass eaters. North and south of the grassland are desert. Parts of the deserts are so dry that no plants grow at all. Where rain falls, grass and desert shrubs appear. Animals that live there are gazelle, fox and hare. They survive in regions of little water, little shade and high daytime temperature.
Throughout Africa there are several thousand species of birds including the world’s largest flightless bird, the ostrich. Africa also has a large number of reptiles. One of the most dangerous is crocodile, which lives in the rivers and in the river banks. Moreover, there are snakes such as cobras and mambas which are poisonous. The largest snake is python.
Many kinds of lizards are also found there. Africa’s wildlife is an important natural resource. Its animals, birds and reptiles are known all over the world. But there is real danger, that is, many species will soon be extinct if they are not protected from hunters and poachers.