Savanna Biome

Savanna Lions
Lions on the Savanna, Kenya, Narok County, Masai Mara. Jonathan & Angela Scott/AWL Images/Getty Images

Biomes are the world's major habitats. These habitats are identified by the vegetation and animals that populate them. The location of each biome is determined by the regional climate.

The savanna biome consists of areas of open grassland with very few trees. There are two types of savannas, tropical and semi-tropical savannas. A savanna is one type of grassland biome.


The savanna climate varies according to the season. In the dry season temperatures can be either extremely hot or cool. In the wet season temperatures are warm. Savannas are typically dry receiving less than 30 inches of rain on average per year.

Tropical savannas may receive as much as 50 inches of rain in the wet season, but as little as 4 inches during the dry season. The dry climate combined with the extreme heat in the dry season makes savannas ripe areas for grass and brush fires.


Grasslands are located on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. Some locations of savannas include:

  • Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia
  • Australia
  • Central America: Belize and Honduras
  • South America: Venezuela and Columbia
  • Southern Asia


The savanna biome is often described as an area of grassland with dispersed singular or clusters of trees. The lack of water makes savannas a difficult place for tall plants, such as trees, to grow. Grasses and trees that grow in the savanna have adapted to life with little water and hot temperatures. Grasses, for example, grow quickly in the wet season when water is abundant and turn brown in the dry season to conserve water. Some trees store water in their roots and only produce leaves during the wet season. Due to frequent fires, grasses stay close to the ground and some plants are fire resistant. Examples of vegetation in the savanna include: wild grasses, shrubs, baobab trees, and acacia trees.


Savannas are home to many large land mammals including elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinoceros, buffalo, lions, leopards and cheetahs. Other animals include baboons, crocodiles, antelopes, meerkats, ants, termites, kangaroos, ostriches, and snakes.

Many of the savanna biome animals are grazing herbivores that migrate through the region. They rely on the herd numbers and speed for survival, as the vast open areas provide little means of escape from quick predators. If the prey is too slow, it becomes dinner. If the predator is not fast enough, it goes hungry. Camouflage and mimicry are also very important to animals of the savanna. Predators often need to blend in with their environment in order to sneak up on unsuspecting prey. On the other hand, prey may use this same technique as a defense mechanism to conceal themselves from animals higher up on the food chain.

More Land Biomes

  • Chaparrals: characterized by dense shrubs and grasses, this biome experiences dry summers and damp winters.
  • Deserts: extremely dry areas with little vegetation. Deserts can be either hot or cold. Due to the harsh conditions of this environment, there are few animals that live there.
  • Taigas: also called coniferous forests, this biome is populated by dense evergreen trees.
  • Temperate Forests: forests that experience distinctive seasons and are populated by deciduous trees (lose leaves in winter).
  • Temperate Grasslands: open grasslands located in colder climate regions than savannas. They are found on every continent except for Antarctica.
  • Tropical Rain Forests: biome receiving abundant rainfall and characterized by tall, dense vegetation. Located near the equator, this biome experiences hot temperatures year round.
  • Tundra: coldest biome characterized by extremely cold temperatures, permafrost, tree-less landscapes, and slight precipitation.