By: Jackie Edwards
The Sahara Desert is enormous. It covers 3.6 million square miles and is the world’s largest hot desert. It expands over a vast area of North Africa, including Tunisia, Egypt, Chad, Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Sudan and Libya. Like so much of Africa, The Sahara Desert is desperate for water.
Not a drop to drink
There is a water crisis in Africa and The Sahara Desert is no exception. There isn’t enough water to sustain life in most of the desert, and there are only two rivers that run through, The Niger and The Nile. Aside from this there are approximately 20 lakes, but only one of these has drinkable water. In the sub-Saharan region the population is struggling without regular access to water and this is predicted to get worse in the decades to come.
Wildlife of The Sahara
The climate of The Sahara Desert makes it suitable for only certain kinds of wildlife. Camels are what springs to mind when we think of the desert. Camels survive due to their amazing ability to go without water for over 2 weeks without water. It is a myth though that camels store water in their humps.
The animals that also thrive in this extreme desert environment aren’t necessarily ones that you’d want to get friendly with. Scorpions (including the terrifyingly named Deathstalker Scorpion) are common in The Sahara. Rodents and snakes have also acclimatized themselves to the desert atmosphere. The Desert Horned Viper is the most common snake to be found in the desert, especially in the sand dunes. Watch out for those pesky Nubian Spitting Cobras too.
The desert wasn’t always dry
There was once a huge river network running through the Sahara Desert. The vast quantities of water made the area green and verdant. It’s hard to imagine that the desert was once teeming with wildlife, but 5,000 years ago the desert was thriving and beautiful. Now, due to the lack of water, the desert is inhospitable. The average annual rainfall of the desert is only a few inches, not enough to sustain the vast amount of wildlife that it once did. And certainly not enough to sustain human life.
We can only survive a few days without water, it is such a shame that this vast area can’t be home to a population that needs somewhere to live. Water is truly the key to all life.