Reptiles in East Africa

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Reptiles in East Africa


Reptiles constitute a diverse class of vertebrates .There are four main group of living reptiles; snakes, lizards, chelonians (tortoise, terrapins, and turtles) and Crocodiles. Less well known are the tuataras, order Rhynchocephalia, two primitive lizards like New Zealand reptiles and the amphisbaenids or warm lizards.
The five countries of East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi) have a diverse landscape. The altitude changes from sea level to snow-capped mountains over 6000 m, the vegetation varies from true desert to rain forest. Such variation is unusual in tropical Africa; the reasons for this diversity are two folds. Firstly the presence  of major cracks ,due to plate movement  in the Earth’s crust  underlying East Africa, which have created landscapes  of long hills and mountains ranges, large volcanic  and block faulted  mountains, deep broad valleys  with large lakes ,and extensive high plateau.

Secondly, much of equatorial east Africa is relatively dry, what forest exist, mostly in the west, are small, largely on isolated uplands high enough to attract rainfall. Reptiles occurs throughout this landscape, being absent only from areas above the snowline. The East African Reptile fauna includes animals typical of desert, savanna, forest and mountains. However the number of species and individuals varies considerably. Little work has been done on actual numbers, in general species numbers decrease with increasing altitude. Thus if you want to find a lot of reptiles, choose a low altitude locality with high rainfall.

Next time while in your East Africa Safari remember to shortlist various reptile during your vacation tour.