Savanna Biome

Major threats to savanna biome

Savannas are amongst the oldest ecosystems used by people. Homo sapiens evolved in a savanna environment in East Africa about one million years ago. Anthropologists believe that these human populations existed by hunting wildlife and gathering plant materials. The Australian Aborigines are one of the traditional savanna hunter-gatherer cultures that still exist (Solbrig 1993).

Savannas land use currently includes fully nomadic pastoralism, semi-nomadic pastoralism, subsistence cultivation with no cash crop, and cash crop cultivation (including ranch, estate and plantation farming). In addition to food, fibre and wood production, savannas are also used for mining, national parks, tourism and urban developments.

Human usage of the savanna biome is increasing, which can lead to degradation of vegetation and soil resources, resulting in nutrient losses and shifts in water balance and availability. Brazilian cerradão contains over 800 species of trees and shrubs alone; approximately 40% of the cerradão and llanos has now been cleared or altered for agricultural uses with crops such as coffee, soybeans, rice, corn and beans.

Endangered Species 

Black Rhino

The black rhino is one of the most endangered animal in the world--there were fewer than 3,200 in the world in 2001, most of which live on wildlife preserves. Even there, poachers kill them for their horns, which some people believe have medicinal value. 

African Elephant

Even though it is illegal, African elephants are hunted for their tusks, their meat and skin. Most elephants in the savanna today are living on wildlife preserves, but the parks are not large enough to support the population.

Grevy's Zebras

Grevy's zebras differ from other zebra species in the way their stripes cover their skin. Grevy's stripes are narrower and continue to the hooves. They are endangered due to loss of habitat to humans who use their land to graze cows. Humans also use the scarce water for crops, leaving little for the zebras to drink.

Climate Change

In the past the Earth's climate has gone through many cycles that have caused significant changes to the Earth's atmosphere. More recently it has been acknowledged that human activities over the past 200 years have significantly altered the Earth’s atmosphere and have lead to a warming of the Earth’s surface.
Climate change will have ecological, social, economic impacts. All of our natural ecosystems are vulnerable to climate change. In the tropical savannas region those ecosystems most at risk include coral reefs, mangroves and wetlands, tropical forests, savannas and remnant native grasslands.