Cheetah eating coyote

Desert, steppe and savannah

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© Goethe Institute

Think of the world as a cake with five pieces. Part of it is desert. There is so much desert!

Deserts are hot or cold. The Sahara in Africa and the Australian desert are hot deserts. The Gobi Desert in Mongolia is a cold desert. Some deserts are very hot during the day and very cold at night.

It's dry in the desert. It rarely rains. It's not just sand there. There are also stones, rocks, clay and salt. Or ice, like in Antarctica. The Antarctic is also called an ice desert.

The animals and plants in the desert need little water and food. They can survive for a long time even when it doesn't rain. There are more animals in the desert than you think.

The camel in the African and Australian deserts is a dromedary and has a hump. The camel in the Asian desert is a trample and has two humps.

There are no camels in the North American desert. Gazelles, antelopes, desert foxes (fennecs), desert hares, cheetahs, leopards, wolves, gerbils, desert hedgehogs, ostriches, lizards, snakes, spiders and insects also live in the African desert.

Almost all animals like to be outside at night and in the morning. Why? Then it's nice and cool! During the day they are in a cool hiding place and sleep.

Areas with water are called oases. These are small green islands in the desert.

Problem zone desert

The desert is unique and beautiful. There are also many animals and plants there. We must therefore protect the desert.

One problem is that there is more and more desert. Because it is getting warmer and warmer on earth, but also because people are doing something wrong.
Many farmers have too many animals. The animals eat all the grass and all the plants. So the land dries up and the desert gets bigger and bigger. It happens very often in Africa!

People cut trees for streets and houses and the land dries up. Farmers who need too much water for their animals and fields are also a problem; the groundwater is then no longer enough for the plants.

Plants stop the desert sand. Without plants like grass, trees and bushes, the desert keeps getting bigger.

In places where the desert is getting bigger and bigger, people often have nothing to eat and die of hunger. That is why the people must be protected from the desert, but the desert must also be protected from the people.

How can people protect themselves from the desert?
  • Animals are only allowed to eat in certain places.
  • Goats in particular are not allowed to graze uncontrollably.
  • Don't cut down trees, don't set fires.
  • Plant wind protection through trees.
  • Use water sparingly.

Steppe and savannah

You already know the desert. There are savannahs in Africa. It's hot there and it only rains very rarely, but a little more than in the desert. Because it rarely rains here, only a few trees grow, but a lot of grass or bushes with thorns.

Where it is a little cooler (especially in winter), these arid areas are called steppes. In the USA it is also called prairie, in South America pampas and in Australia grasslands.

For example, coyotes, bison, wolves and lynx live in the North American steppe.

Foxes, lynxes, antelopes, wolves and falcons live in the Asian steppe.

The Australian grasslands are home to kangaroos and emus, hares, rabbits, lizards and wild dogs called dingoes.

Zebras, buffalos, elephants, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, hyenas, vultures and many different species of antelopes and gazelles live in the savannahs in Africa. There are few hiding spots there, so most of the animals live in large herds. So they can better protect themselves against enemies.

Worksheets - The arid areas

  • Word puzzle (PDF, 147 kB)
  • Word puzzle - solution (PDF, 139 kB)
  • Animal names desert (PDF, 460 kB)
  • Animal name desert - Solution (PDF, 135 kB)
  • Animal names-steppe-savannah (PDF, 235 kB)
  • Animal names-steppe-savannah - solution (PDF, 135 kB)
  • Arrange letters (PDF, 286 kB)
  • Arrange letters - solution (PDF, 294 kB)
  • Do you know it? (PDF, 803 kB)
  • Word snake (PDF, 208 kB)