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The Tropic Grasslands 808

season, dry, grass, trees, plains and brazil

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THE TROPIC GRASSLANDS 808. Resemblances to Africa.—Examine the maps of Africa and South America and compare the grasslands of the two continents in size and location. (Fig. 566, B1, B2, B3, B4. ) Like the African grasslands, the South Amer ican grasslands have two seasons, one of which is hot and dry. During this season the grass dries up and the trees drop their leaves.

The other season is a hot, damp, muggy season of rains. Then the grass springs up, the trees come out in leaf, birds build their nests, and streams run swiftly. In some places the water stands about in pools. During the next dry season the pools and the smaller streams dry up. Then rivers, recently flooded, become shallow streams, trickling along their wide and almost empty beds, or dry up completely. (Figs. 540, 541, 557.) 809. A great, empty district.--The great, empty district of Brazilian-Bolivian grass lands or savannahs extends all the way from the low plains on the east coast of Brazil to the Andes Moun tains. What other regions touch it? This is not a place to which people go for pleas ure tours. There are no 1 steamers except on the ll upper Parana, and, except i for one railroad line, tray :1 elers have to go on their own horses or in their own - canoes, and carry their own .

r over hundreds of I thousands of square miles. After crossing this region I near the source of the s s Tapajos River, Theodore • Roosevelt said of it: "At r C intervals along the trail we I came on the staring skull ' and bleached skeleton of D a mule or ox. Day after day we rode forward across endless flats of grass and of low, open. scrubby forest, the trees standing far apart and in most places being but little higher than the head of a horseman. Some of them carried blossoms, white, orange, yellow, pink; and there were many flowers, the most beau tiful being the morning-glories." The Brazil ians call this country of grassy plains the campos. In all of this wide savannah, large settlements can be found only in Paraguay and in a few small localities at the foot of the mountains in Bolivia, and near the coast of Brazil.

This region is much larger than all that part of the United States east of the Missis sippi River. Most of it is a vast, waiting land, peopled only by scattered tribes of Indians, and a few settlements of half-breeds and white men. The natives live by hunting, fishing, or keeping cattle, and a little garden ing. They have simple grass houses, or grass shelters on poles, but without walls.

810. High plains and low plains.—The eastern part of the grassland in Brazil is a plateau. (Fig. 566.) On its eastern edge is the steep slope down to the sea like the one we shall see at Santos. (Sec. 817.) In some places near the sea, the wall rises suddenly three thousand feet and then slopes away gently to the west. This highland has less heat and less moisture than has New Orleans or Florida, and, therefore, it may become a land of white men, although as yet they have not settled it. The western part, drained by the upper branches of the Paraguay, the Madeira, and the Tapajos, is much lower, and in places is so flat that in the rainy season the water stands from three to six feet deep, with never a hill to be seen. Water thus covers twenty, thirty, or even forty thousand square miles, an area several times as big as Massachusetts. At this season people must go about in boats or live in houses on poles. The cattle must be driven to dry land miles away, where they can find something to eat.

There are trees and even forests along most of the rivers of the grasslands, because the moisture keeps trees growing in the dry season. There are also patches of forest mixed with the grassland in many parts of the plains. This is the home of the deer, the jaguar, and many other wild animals. One of the most dangerous animals here is a kind of small wild pig called a peccary.

These animals go in great droves, and will attack men on horseback. They hamstring the horse and kill the man. Hamstringing is cut ting the heel ten don, an act which makes men or quad rupeds helpless.

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