Animals Also Evolve Ingenuous Adaptations
The Sahara once had a broad, vital array of animal species, including elephants, lions, ostrich, and a host of other species. But many animals vanished as the climate shifted, the desert expanded, and human beings killed off the fragile survivors. For instance, a hunter killed the last known antelopelike addax in the northern Sahara in the early 1920s, and other species are on the brink of extinction. Now, only a handful of animals live in the deep desert. Many of the unique species that thousands of years ago took refuge on the arklike volcanic islands rising from the sea of sand barely survive. Remaining desert animals include the gerbil, jerboa, Cape hare, desert hedgehog, anubis baboon, spotted hyena, jackal, sand fox, Libyan striped weasel, slender mongoose, Barbary sheep, scimitarhorned oryx, dorcas gazelle, dama deer, and Nubian wild ass. Some 300 birds have been spotted at some point in the Sahara, but most are passing through on migration routes that originate in the Tropics and fan out across Europe and Asia. Many of the birds move along the coastal areas without braving the interior. However, some birds do make use of the vast expanses of the interior desert, including ostriches, Nubian bustards, desert eagle owls, fan-tailed ravens, and a handful of others.