Prairies: The Grasslands

Prairies The GrasslandsPRAIRIES

Prairies, are the grasslands of North America. They are located in central part of the North America. ‘Prairie’ is a French word which means a meadow or a grassland. They are vast, flat and treeless areas located away from the oceans. Prairies are watered by two great rivers-Mississippi and Missouri where a lot of wildlife is found.

CLIMATE

These grasslands are located in the interior of the continent, away from the ocean. They have an extreme type of climate i.e. hot in summers and cold in winters. This region gets moderate rainfall. There is heavy snowfall in winters. Both summers and winters are severe. Both soil and climate are suitable for growth of grasses.

VEGETATION

The prairies were once covered with dense and tall grasses. But today they are the biggest wheat growing areas. Prairies are also called the ‘Wheat basket of the world’. Grasses grow in summers after the rain and becomes dry in winters. The grasses are green in summers, lush green in mid summers and turn grey in winters.

Trees like willow, elder and polar are found on the banks of Mississippi and Missouri. banks of Mississipi and missouri.

ANIMAL LIFE

Large grazing animals are found in plenty, in these grasslands. Many animals like Bison have become extinct now due to loss of their habitat and over hunting. Deer, bear, dogs, wolves, horses and rabbits are common there.

Domestic animals like goats, sheep, cows, bullocks, horses and donkeys are plenty because of extensive pastures. Birds found in these grasslands are plant and seed eaters. Bustards, falcons, hawks, owls and eagles are the common birds. Rattle snakes and bull snakes are also found in these grasslands. Insects like grasshoppers, leaf hoppers and spiders are very common in these grasslands.

WAY OF LIVING

Earlier, Red Indians lived in the prairie region of North America, Hotentots in South Africa and Kirghiz in Central Asia. These were nomadic tribes. They wandered from one place to another in search of food and water. Cattle grazing was the main occupation.

They lived in tents called Yurts which were made from animal skin. The staple food was milk, milk products and meat. Now, the life in these grasslands has been completely changed. The grasslands have been converted into farmlands. These farms are very huge and are spread over thousands of acres. In each farm, there are small homesteads where the farmer and his family and a few workers stay. Wheat, barley, oats, rye, flax and nutritious grasses are grown on these farms. Farming is done with the help of powerful modern machines. This type of farming is called Mechanised Farming. Wheat is the main crop of the Prairies. This region is also called the “Wheat Basket of the World” or “Wheat Granary of the World”. Wheat is stored in barns called Elevators. Alfaala is a good quality fodder for cattle. Southern prairies are cotton growing regions of USA.

The western part of the prairies is hilly. The soil is, coarse, rough and less fertile. This soil is, coarse, rough and less fertile. This area is, therefore, not suitable for growing crops. Cattle rearing is the main occupation of the people here. The cattle graze in open grasslands are called Ranches. Every ranch has a special place where cattle are dipped in dis infectants to protect them from diseases.

These places are called Vats. Animals are reared for their milk and meat. Modern machines are used for milking cows. Chicago is the main centre for slaughtering animals. Beef is a very important product which is exported to many European countries.

MINERALS

Huge reserves of iron ore, coal and mineral oil are found in prairies. In the velds of South Africa, minerals like gold, diamonds, iron ore and coal are found.

The prairies are highly industrialised. Most of the people lead a luxurious life with modern amenities. People are very hard working. This region is also called the developed region of the world with a very high standard of living.