The Cerrado – The Brazilian Savannah

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Even though the word “Cerrado” means “Closed” in the Portuguese language, the term is rather confusing given the fact that this habitat is  characterized by open spaces, wide horizons, reddish soil and clear blue skies.

This tall continental plateau is among the oldest in the world, being about 2 billion years old. It’s situated north-west of Rio de Janeiro and has many unique characteristics like:golden hill-like plains, red jagged rocks, canyons and rivers hidden behind palm tree forests.

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Cerrado is the second largest habitat in Brazil after the Amazon, covering 21% of the entire country. It’s situated on an extremely old terrain, acidic and poor in minerals, not very good for agriculture. It is however, one of the oldest tropical ecosystems in the world. And has a large amount of gold, iron and precious stones just below the surface.

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Lurking among the arid grasslands and shrubbery one finds such large mammals as the jaguar, maned wolf, giant anteater, giant armadillo and marsh deer. There are roughly 160 mammals species living here, 18 of which are found only here. Taking shelter in many of the region’s characteristic twisted and gnarled trees are 837 bird species, like the red-legged seriema, the critically endangered Spix’s macaw, and many more. There are also over 10,000 species of plants, almost half of which are found nowhere else in the world.

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The region receives some 1500 mm of water annually which are mostly spread through the months of April until October, during the wet season. During the rest of the time little to no rain falls in this region and many trees have adapted to having a thick bark and waxy leaves, suited for scorching heat. Many say that the Cerrado looks a lot like the African Savannah without the zebras and giraffes.

There are some 20 national parks in this region of Brazil and 85 others which are privately owned by nature devoted Brazilians. But even so, only about a fifth of the habitat is left intact.

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