VII GEO GIST – LIFE IN THE TEMPERATE GRASSLANDS

  • As climate plays an important role in the formation of grasslands, it is generally used as a basis to divide the world’s grasslands into two broad categories: those that occur in the temperate region and those that occur in the tropical regions.

The Prairies:

  • The temperate grasslands of N. America are called as the Prairies. It is a region of flat, gently sloping or hilly land.
  • The Prairies are bound by the Rocky mountains in the West and the Great lakes in the East.
  • The Prairies cover parts of USA and parts of Canada.
  • In the USA, the area is drained by the tributaries of Mississippi and the Canadian prairies are drained by the tributaries of Saskatchewan Rivers.
  • The grasslands of Prairies were the home of Native Americans often called “Red Indians”. They were the actual habitant of the continent. The prairies are were the home of other tribes also like the Apache, the Crow, the Cree and the Pawnee.

Climate:

  • The climate is continental type with extreme temperatures.
  • Due to the absence of the north-south barrier, Chinook is a hot wind that blows in winter and therefore raises the temperature within a short time.

Flora and Fauna:

  • Where water is available, trees such as willows, alders and poplars grow.
  • Though the major crop of this area is maize, other crops including potatoes, soybean, cotton and alfa-alfa is also grown.
  • Large cattle farms called ranches are looked after sturdy men called cowboys.
  • Bison or the American Buffalo is the most important animal of this region. It nearly got extinct due to its indiscriminate hunting and is now a protected species.
  • The other animals found in this region are rabbits, coyotes, gophers and Prairie dog.

People:

  • Important cities in the American Prairies are Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Kansas and Denver.
  • In the Canadian prairies the important cities are Edmonton, Saskatoon, Calgary and Winnipeg.
  • The Prairies are also known as the “Granaries of the world”, due to the huge surplus of wheat production.
  • Dairy farming is another major industry. The dairy belt extends from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Coast in the east.
  • Large mineral deposits particularly coal and iron and a good network of roads, railways and canals in this region have made it the most industrialized region in the world.

The Velds:

  • The temperate grasslands of S. Africa are called the Velds.
  • These are rolling plateaus with varying heights ranging from 600 m to 1100 m.
  • It is bound by the Drakensburg mountains on the east. To the west lies the Kalhari desert. on the northeastern part, “high velds” are located that attain a height of more than 1600 m, in some places.
  • The tributaries of the rivers Orange and Limpopo drain the region.

Climate:

  • The velds have a mild climate due to the influence of the Indian Ocean.
  • Winters are cold and dry. Temperatures vary between 5o C and 10o July is the coldest month. Summers are short and warm.
  • The velds receive rainfall mainly in the summer months from November to February. This is mainly because of the warm ocean currents that wash the shores of the velds.

Flora and Fauna:

  • In the high velds acacia and maroola are seen to be growing.
  • The animals of the velds are primarily lions, leopards, cheetah and krudu.

People:

  • Velds are known for cattle rearing and mining.
  • The main crops are maize, wheat, barley, oats and potato.
  • Cash crops like tobacco, sugarcane and cotton are also grown.
  • Sheep rearing is the most important occupation of the people.
  • Merino sheep is a popular species and their wool is very warm.
  • Dairy farming is the next important occupation.
  • The velds have rich reserve of minerals.
  • Iron and steel industry has developed where coal and iron are present.
  • Gold and diamond mining are major occupations of people of this region.
  • Johannesburg is known for being the gold capital of the world.
  • Kimberley is famous for its diamond mines.
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