Kopjes make a statement, rising up to punctuate the savanna. Formed from an ancient granite layer exposed after softer rock was worn away, the weathered stone cracks and splits, creating ledges, caves, and crevices.
Islands of Biodiversity
Many species of plants that cannot grow on the savanna are found only on the kopjes. In turn, a unique habitat is developed that is home to a wide variety of animals—insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
I Can See for Miles
Kopjes are favorite vantage points for animals, as they survey territory and look for predators or prey. They’re also protection from grass fires and storms, and they collect water that animals drink when it’s dry.
species of small mammals that live among the kopjes of the Serengeti
the number of feet a kopje habitat can reach above the savanna
how many years old the rocks of Africa’s kopjes are
Cooperation Is Key
A "kat" is not a cat when it's a meerkat—which is a type of mongoose. Living in cooperative bands, meerkats choose teamwork over a solo career. They work together to care for the group’s youngsters, hit the road to catch and bring back food, and defend their territory.
Most of all, the meerkat’s gig is to dig. Meerkats live in large, complex underground burrows—some more than six feet deep—that have many entrance and exit holes, tunnels, and chambers. As they dig, they loosen and aerate the grassland soil, plus help spread plant seeds.
We Are Family
Meerkats have each other’s backs. They take turns standing guard, perched on high points like boulders or termite mounds to keep an eye on their surroundings. The sentry warns the others of danger when it spots a predator like an eagle.
Meerkats are experts at downtime. They work and play hard, but when it’s time to relax, nothing beats a nap in the sun, arms splayed and belly soaking up some rays.
The squat and furry rock hyrax may not look like a rocker, but it is a master climber, with bare, padded, sweaty feet that act like suction cups to get a grip. Hyrax groups live among the nooks and crannies of the boulders, blending in as protection from predators.
Klipspringer is an Afrikaans word meaning “rock jumper,” one of this dwarf antelope’s talents. Less than 25 pounds and 2 feet tall at the shoulder, klipspringers live among the boulders, browsing on shrubs and herbs, and they can flee quickly up rocky surfaces that look impossible to climb.
Girls rule in dwarf mongoose groups—the dominant adult female outranks the other group members. These quick and nimble mammals seek out rock outcroppings, hollow logs, and termite mounds for dens, lookout posts, and hiding places.