Wildlife in The Sahara

sahara scorpion

Prehistoric Sahara

Hundreds of millions of years ago the Sahara was covered by great seas. With time, the seas slowly drifted away, leaving behind a massive expanse of searing desert, much bigger than the one we have today. Around 800,000 years ago, the Sahara was hot, damp and covered with swamps, lakes, rivers and vegetation everywhere. This period of heavy rain lasted for hundreds of thousands of years.

Ever since, the Sahara comes and goes just as ice ages do elsewhere. One of these most recent cycles, between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, brought heavy rainfalls to the area, and gradually transformed the Sahara into wet and lush-green land, covered with rivers and lakes, and teeming with hippopotami, rhinoceroses, crocodiles and elephants.

However, according to an article published in the Independent Newspaper (September 8, 1999), titled: "Tilt of Earth's axis turned Sahara into a desert", scientists have found that the Sahara was abruptly transformed from fertile land into a desert after the Earth underwent one of its periodic changes in orientation between 9000 and 6000 years ago; during which its tilt lessened from 24.14 degrees off vertical to its present 23.45 degrees, and its closest position to the sun gradually shifted from July to January.

The Sahara today is the largest desert in the world, estimated to be between seven and nine million square kilometres (7-9m km2) - that is about one third of Africa. Winters in the subtropical north can be very cold where temperatures can fall below freezing point, as opposed to the mild tropical south, where rain falls more during the summer than it does in the north. Similarly, temperatures are high during the day and low at night. The highest temperature in the world was recorded in Libya on the 13th of September 1922, in el-Azizia, close to Tripoli: a staggering 136.4 degree Fahrenheit (or 58 degrees Celsius). Although in the summer temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius in the shade, and in the winter can reach -9 (minus nine), the average year round temperature is about 30 degrees Celsius. Between the 27th of December and the 18th of January some areas of the Sahara become covered with a thin white layer very similar to frost, which turns the surface white and hence the name of this period: "The White Nights".

saharan gourds: Citrullus colocynthis

Citrullus colocynthis. Berber names: Alkhad (Tuareg); Tadjalt.

Ground-creeping desert plant, with inedible gourds, the size of small melons. The milky sap of these gourds is used as a remedy for scorpion stings by the local Tuareg people. The gourd is also a purgative - that is cleanses and purifies the body. For further details, see "Traditional medicine in Central Sahara: Pharmacopoeia of Tassili N?ajjer", by Hammiche, H. & K. Maiza; Journal of Etnopharmacology, Volume 105 (2006) pp. 358-367.

wildlife in acacus

In prehistoric times the Sahara was significantly wetter, but climatic desiccation over the past few thousand years has destroyed much of its wildlife. The flora of the Sahara is estimated to include about 1,200 species, consisting mainly of xerophytes and ephemeral plants, with halophytes in moister areas, and Acacia, Tamarisk and Calotropis procera along the wadis. However, according to another scientific study, the Sahara's flora still includes about 3000 species.

The fauna of the Sahara includes about 70 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, including 90 species of resident birds, and around 100 species of reptiles. Owing to extreme heat, most small desert creatures are nocturnal. The populations of these species were greatly reduced by over-hunting and many are now endangered species, like the ostrich, addax, some species of gazelles and the cheetah. Most of the African large mammals that were reported to have been present in the desert until the second half of the 19th century have now become extinct. Some of these animals can be seen in Fezzan Park, and also in Tripoli's zoo.

The Sahara is also rich in oil and metallic, mineral deposits, the most common of which is iron ore (found in large quantities in Algeria and Mauritania), followed by copper, manganese, phosphates, and uranium (with large deposits in Niger).


Desert Roses

Deasert Roses from the Libyan Sahara

Desert Roses from the Sahara around the Ghadames Area, Libya.

Desert roses grow in size just like plants and animals do. The leaf-like structure of its crystals makes the stone look like a rose flower and hence its name. This leafy structure is slowly built using the mineral gypsum which grows in the tiny gaps between the specks of sand. A handful of sand would appear compact to the naked eye, but under the microscope one can easily see more cavities than sand. As it grows in these cavities the gypsum seals the surrounding   sand particles in leaf-like flakes. These flakes then grow with time just like plant leaves do, and develop complex forms (see above).

desert rose
This type of desert rose is found after Tmessah and before reaching Waw Alkabeer, Fezzan, southern Libya.

life in the desert

Life In The Desert

Most of the Sahara's oases are situated in depressions and sustained by underground basins and rivers.

But how do plants survive in the desert?

For plants to survive in the desert, they must invent ingenious ways to deal with lack of water. Some species germinate within 72 hours of rainfall and sow their seeds 2 weeks later. Shrubs and trees have extensive root systems which can penetrate as far as 50 metres into the ground; tamarisk and acacia have short, fat trunks that act as reservoirs for excess water. The seeds of ephemerals germinate only after heavy rain, and then very quickly consume their entire life-cycle; producing brightly coloured flowers to attract insects. Grasses develop large and complex root systems for collecting water over a wide area, enabling them to survive when the overground parts are scorched to death.

Geophytes survive by remaining underground as bulbs, and like ephemerals, they quickly grow and develop when rain comes. Saharan succulents, like euphorbia, suck the extra water to store for later.   Some insects collect moisture from the air and then direct it as droplets of water into their mouths. While desert-ships (the camels) vary their bodies' temperature according to the conditions: low when it is cool and high when hot; when they are thirsty transpiration drops to zero. Humans, however, resort to nomadic way of life in order to survive in the Sahara, travelling from one location to another in search of water and vegetation. In short, life has a mind of its own, long before it created ours!

The only permanently inhabited zones in the Sahara are the oases and areas along the few fertile valleys, such as Wadi Alhayat (the Valley of Life) in Fezzan. The palm trees in these regions, which are normally arranged in narrow rows with an east-west orientation (in line with the apparent sun's course across the sky), occur where water is relatively close to the surface, and thus allowing the digging of shallow wells to support settled life.   Rain in the Sahara falls at rare intervals, mostly between the months of January and April, with a variation from 0.5 inch to 4 inches over a 5 year period.

succulent sahara tree
Calotropis procera (Asclepiadaceae)

Berber (Tuareg) name: Torha, Torcha or Torh N'ajjer; while in Libya it is called Branbakh or Albranbakh.

Its wood is light, and thus used to light fire (by rubbing it against hard wood to generate heat and then sparks), and also used for roofing material for small huts. According to Sahara-Nature one should not touch the plant, as the latex (the milky sap) produced is very irritant, especially to the eyes: can become blind.




Sahara Animals & Insects


  • Baboons
  • Barbary Sheep (Ammotragus Lervia)
  • Scarab Beetles
  • Wild Ass
  • Ants
  • Locusts
  • Ostriches
  • Oryxes
  • Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis)
  • Chameleons
  • Dwarf Crocodiles (in Chad's portion of the Sahara)
  • Spiders
  • Snakes (serpents, pythons, cobras, horned viper, sand snakes, etc.)
  • Scorpions
  • Flying scorpions (rather gliding scorpions, as they glide along with the wind).
  • Mosquitoes
  • Mongoose
  • Jackals
  • Fennec Foxes (Vulpes zerda, Vulpes rueppellii, Vulpes pallida)
  • Badgers
  • Pigeons
  • Brown-necked Ravens
  • Mouse-like Jerboas
  • Saharan Gundi Mouse
  • Lizards
  • Goats
  • Oxen
  • Hedgehogs
  • Moths
  • Flies
  • Dragonflies
  • Leaf bugs
  • Frogs (Bufo Viridis, Ptychadina occipitalis)
  • Antelopes (Leucoryx)
  • Camels
  • Hyenas
  • Cats (Felis Caracal, Felis chaus, Sand Cat)
  • Gazelles
  • Waddan (large goatlike deer)
  • Weasel
  • Gerbils
  • Jerboas
  • Bears (in Al-Hamada Al-Hamra around March and April)

Fish (in pools):

  • Brine Shrimp
  • Clarias Anguillaris
  • Barbus Biscarensis
  • Tilapia Zillii

Birds (Migratory & Breeding):

  • Vultures
  • Crows
  • Hawks
  • Moula Moula bird ('the messenger')
  • Alectoris Barbara Duprezii
  • Golden Eagle
  • Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)
  • Brown Desert Larks
  • White Stork (Ciconia)
  • Moorhen Gallinula Chloropus
  • Desert Sparrow
  • Botaurus Stellaris
  • Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
  • Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
  • Lxobrychus Minutus
  • Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
  • Night Heron (Nycticorax)
  • Desert Eagle Owls
  • Rock Martins
  • Coot Fulica Atra
  • Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
  • Purple Heron (A. purpurea)
  • Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellis)





dead animal in the desert






sahara desrt scorpion






scorpion from ghadames museum







sahara lizard

Desert Camels:

Camels are nearly 50 million years old; and, like horses, were as big as domesticated cats, living in North America's forests. By 12 million years ago, several types of camels evolved, including the one-meter-tall Procamelus of the Camelus genus, from which modern camels descended. The Camelus crossed North America to Asia, some 3 million years ago, and then reached Africa rather recently (between 4 and 3 thousand years ago). 90 %  of camels are dromedaries (with one hump), most of which live in North/East Africa. On average camels can travel the hot Sahara for two weeks without drinking water, slowly loosing weight; and when water is found, their large stomachs can carry as much as 100 litres of water. Camels do not carry water in their humps, which are mainly fat.

Happy Camels
The ship of the desert: the camel.

Desert camels



 Libyan Serpents:

There are about 95 species of reptiles in the Sahara, consisting mainly of three types: lizards, snakes and tortoises. Although most of them are small creatures, the desert monitor lizard can reach up to 1.5 meters long. Unlike other vertebrates reptiles are cold-blooded and therefore are unable to produce their own heat. They live on insects and small mammals, and their thick skin helps them minimises water loss. There are about 400 species of snakes in Africa today, 90 of which are venomous. According to classical Greek sources the Sahara was infested with serpents, mythical and real, like those of the Libyan Gorgon Medusa. Libyan traditions state that snakes are harmless if they are left alone. For some reason, probably to do with the low temperature, snakes are completely timid and harmless between the months of October and February. The photo shows a sand viper (about fifty centimetres long), which has a pair of horns just above the eyes. The "trouble" with the sand viper is that it is usually buried just under the surface of the sand, which means good desert boots are essential. The ancient Garamantes of Fezzan carried Libyan Neith's tattoos on their legs, just above the ankle, properly to protect from snake bites, which can be a bit painful, but rarely fatal.

However, be reminded that when travelling in the desert it is best to always wear thick leather boots and avoid disturbing stones and small rocks. If you have to turn some stones, like when camping, then beware of scorpions and serpents and never do it at night. Camping preparations should always be undertaken in full day light. If you see snakes "sneaking" about, then learn to live with them, leave them alone, keep a safe distance from them, and remember to never corner a snake or a cobra as they might attack before you get a chance to react. Respect nature if you seek the same respect for yourself!


Although venomous snakes inject poison, pythons "end the life" of their prey by constriction: they coil their bodies around their prey, slowly suffocating  them to death. At up to twenty five feet long (the reticulated python: Python reticulatus), you are not left with much choice but to avoid them in the first place. Always keep a safe distance, as they can leash out to half their bodies' length in an instant. However, the African Ball python (Python regius) rarely gets bigger than six feet long, and is very well tamed and popular pet.

If you have been bitten and cannot get medical care within half an hour, then the Red Cross recommends the traditional technique of washing the affected area with soap and water and then applying a bandage, about three inches above the wound, but not very tight. However lack of washing has its benefits too (see below). Also try and keep the affected area below the heart level to slow down the flow of venom. Traditionally one would make a small cut and squeeze as much blood out of the wound as possible, but nowadays academic experts advise against making any cuts to prevent the risk of infection or the risk of cutting sensitive tissues. Instead they recommend a suction device (a kit, see below) which can be used to draw the venom without making a cut. We have included these kits among the things you should take with you to Libya in our travel guide to Libya. Polluting local water resources must be avoided at all times.

Dry Bite:

Snakes can bite but they do not have to deliver (or waste) precious venom on a creature that is too big to eat. You might get bitten but it does not mean you were poisoned, and so the importance of staying clam and never to panic. However, always seek medical help even if you do not get any symptoms.


Libyan Desert Scorpion

Sahara Scorpions:

Insects are very numerous in the Sahara, especially  scorpions, termites, ants, sacred scarab beetles, intelligent spiders, and the most devastating of  all: locusts, which can cover massive areas very quickly and consume entire fields in a matter of minutes. Most desert insects are nocturnal and the secret of their survival is their hard, crusty and waxy skin which minimises water loss, in addition to hiding under rocks (like scorpions) and under the sand (like centipedes).

The common scorpion in the Sahara is the Leiurus quinquestriatus (the deathstalker), which although can be fatal to a child, an elderly or a weak person, it rarely causes serious harm to a healthy adult. The poison is administered via the tail sting, which if cut away the scorpion becomes edible. Scorpions get their fluids from their prey and thus they rarely drink. If scorpions are left alone and not disturbed, they, like serpents, are harmless and rarely attack humans for no reason, like many humans do. Stepping over them accidentally forces them to spontaneously react, thinking they were attacked. If you are a healthy adult, then there is nothing to worry about. [I have been stung twice in one night and sought no help because there was none around.] 

Flying scorpions:

These are not flying scorpions as such, but they call them "Wind Scorpions" because they utilise the wind to glide, just as many forest creatures do jump from one tree to another; and therefore one can call them "gliding scorpions". These are mainly found in Edhan Murzuq and Al-Kufrah during the months of April and May, especially when it is very hot. {You better get your spacesuit ready for the Sahara.}


Snake-bite & scorpion-sting kits

Anti venom kits are usually used to extract the painful venom left by common insects, such as wasps, bees, midges, mosquitoes, spiders and even the extremely painful jellyfish. A typical kit   normally contains a mini vacuum pump, which painlessly extracts poison from stings and thereby reducing itching and pain. However, these kits are also used to treat snake bites and scorpion stings, as they allow you, using only one hand if need to, to take as much poison out of the system as possible, especially when used immediately after applying the bandage above the wound (to slow down the spread of venom). The human body is very resilient and often can deal with small amounts of poison that are left in, if any, and so these kits can make a difference.

How Fatal is a snake bite?

Reassuringly, more than 50% of those who were bitten by poisonous snakes escape without any harm, simply because not all snakes inject venom when they bite, and so never panic, but always seek medical help to be 100% safe. In a research carried out in Australia, scientists discovered that out of 3000 snakebites taking place every year, on average only around 300 receive antivenom, out of which only one or two prove to be fatal. While in America only around 10 victims out of 8000 who were bitten by venomous snakes actually die.

What are these snake-bite and scorpion sting kits and what do they contain?

The kits do not contain any anti venom injections, simply because venoms differ from snake specie to another and therefore it is always important to remember what type of snake you were bitten by so that the nurse can administer the correct antidote at the hospital. Of course, there is the polyvalent antivenom, which can be used against most types of poisons if the identification of the snake fails. However it is generally agreed that it is much safer to use snake-specific antivenoms than polyvalent antivenoms. This is why in Australia each state has its special polyvalent antivenom specifically made for the local snakes present in the area. Anti-venom needs to be prescribed by a professional doctor or a specialist and should be administered in a clinic or a hospital. If you can remember what type of snake you were bitten by or what kind of a scorpion you were stung by then that description will help the doctor to administer the specific antigen.

So what does the anti snake-bite kit really contain?

It contains:
  • instructions
  • a sterile blade
  • a small plastic device for sucking the venom through the cut (also known as an extraction pump)
  • tourniquet (an instrument or a device used to temporarily stop or restrict the flow of blood, usually a tightly encircling bandage
  • sterile bandage
  • sterilising solution (alcohol) or antiseptic wipes.

These kits are mainly used to suck as much of the poison as possible, keep the cut clean and safe from infection until you get to the nearest hospital or clinic.


Snake Identification Kits

To administer the correct (and snake-specific) antivenom one needs to know the type of the snake. But then how would you identify a snake at night or in a jungle where there is no sight of the snake? If all means to identify the snake fail then doctors will prescribe a polyvalent antivenom, even though this can have negative side affects  and hence the importance of the identification. This is where Snake Venom Detection Kits (SVDK), or snake identification kits, come in. The kit can identify the correct type from samples taken from the bite site within half an hour and therefore allowing the correct antivenom to be administered very quickly. The sample can also be taken either from a urine sample (where systemic envenoming is present in the patient) or from the snake's fangs (if the snake is present).


What can I do if I were bitten by a snake or stung by a scorpion?

(1) Prevention:

Prevention Better Than Cure:

  • Snakes never attack unless they feel threatened.
  • Stay still: if you see a snake passing by stay absolutely still as snakes attack only when they sense danger: it is their instinct. But standing still in their territories maybe taken as a sign of being attacked. If you can just run for it as quickly as possible.
  • Exercising caution in areas where snakes are to be found (near stones and rocks): in the Sahara this translates to Metkhendoush area where the ground is covered in stones and rocks.
  • Do not turn stones; leave them as they are. Warm rocks are homes for scorpions and snakes. The worst thing to do is send a signal to the scorpion or snake that its home has been destroyed.
  • Never set camp at night; always in broad day light.
  • If sleeping under the stars then try and make a raised bed (with logs or wood) at least one foot from the ground
  • Sleep in sealed tents.
  • Never corner a snake or a cobra if you see one.
  • Do not panic if you see a snake and keep away as quickly and normal as possible.
  • Never attack a snake.
  • Make plenty of noise when walking in woods to warn snakes ahead of you and give them a chance to get out of your way and hide.
  • Thumping your feet on the ground as you walk will frighten away most snakes (but never do it when snakes are in sight as they may feel they wee threatened.
  • Do not place your hands in holes or places where you cannot see what is inside.
  • Always watch where you place your feet, if you can.
  • Always walk with a torch at night - never plod in darkness.
  • Use good hiking boots, just in case you step on a snake.
  • Take extra care near stone or log piles, crevices and caves
  • Carry an anti snake-bite kit with you.
  • Carry the telephone number of the nearest hospital in the area where you would be travelling.
  • Always shake off garments and loose items and check all containers in the morning.
  • Always shake out your boots in the morning, although there are those who prefer to sleep with their boots on, and then take them off during the day while driving in the car.


(2) Mild Symptoms

  • Panic
  • Fear
  • Emotional confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vertigo
  • Fainting
  • Cold skin
  • Redness & swelling of affected area
  • Slight pain
  • Neurotoxicity (some venoms attack the nervous system)
  • If you notice of feel any symptoms of muscular spasm or respiratory difficulties, then medical help is paramount - in fact in all conditions, regardless of symptoms, medical assistance must be sought as soon as possible, just in case.


(3) Serious Symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Sickness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Occasional sudden hypotension (with loss of consciousness)
  • Cranial nerve paralysis
  • Stomach pain
  • Haemoglobinuria
  • Hypertension
  • Tachycardia
  • Haemmorrhage
  • Limb & respiratory muscle paralysis
  • Peripheral circulatory failure
  • Myoglobinuria
  • Death (rare).


(4) Treatment

  • Stay calm, strong and positive at all time.
  • Do not panic and get to a hospital as soon as you can. Do not ignore it even if you did not develop any symptoms.
  • Do not walk, if possible, until treatment is applied.
  • Immobility: if possible use a sling to minimise all limb movement, and call for help to come to the site (if possible).
  • Stay standing, if you can, and as still as possible, and try and keep the affected part below the heart level.
  • To help the medical staff with applying the correct antidote, the scorpion can be kept in a special container (alive in a glass jar with small holes in the lid) for identification. Or take a photo of it using your phone or digital camera and release it in the wild, as snakes and scorpions only defend if they feel they were provoked or attacked.
  • Do not make a cut on or around the bite, as you would be taking the risk of infection.
  • Do not place any cooling element, such as ice, on the bite, as this would make it much harder to remove the venom with the suction device.
  • Although some sources recommend cleaning the wound with soap and water, others go against the practice, and say the residue or traces of poison left on the skin and bandages can be used to identify the correct type of poison and hence the correct anti-venom quickly.
  • Apply the bandage about 3 inches above the wound, very gently making sure not to restrict the flow of blood. Improper use of tourniquets can be dangerous.

  • Use the kit (if you have one and if you have to) to suck out as much as possible of the venom without making any cuts: just place the pump over the bite mark(s).
  • Do not suck blood with your mouth, as you would be taking the risk of taking the venom into your bloodstream.
  • Antivenin: for serious snake bites, physicians apply antivenin, which is an antidote derived from antibodies made in a horse's blood serum after injecting it with the poison; and therefore the need for the specialist to test for known allergies before administering the vaccine.
  • The wild gourds (Citrullus colocynthis, pictured above) are traditionally used by the Tuareg of the Sahara to treat scorpion stings. There are those who say one should not attempt traditional remedies and should get help instead. But then how can one get help in the desert? Traditional Environmental Knowledge, known as TEK to scientists, is currently being collected from around the world as human heritage, and most of it, if not all, is rather impressive. Use your common sense and always try and get to the nearest hospital.


desert lizard, sahara, libya





Gazelle Species:

  • Scimitar-Horned Oryx (now extinct in the wild)
  • Dorcas Gazelle (Gazella dorcas)
  • Dama Gazelle (Gazella dama)
  • Red-Fronted Gazelle




Sahara Foxes:

  • Fennec (Vulpes zerda): small, clever fox,  with large ears, capable of tracking down lizards and beetles at night from their slightest sounds.
  • Ruppell's (Vulpes rueppellii)
  • Pale fox  (Vulpes pallida).

sahara wildlife

desert fennec



Desert Crocodiles:

Crocodiles were the masters of the Sahara some 100 million years ago, and were very common to the Sahara, especially in large lakes and rivers, until a century ago. Today, some survived in small numbers, particularly in the Ennedi mountains of Chad and the Tagant in Mauritania.


Scarab Beetle

beetle from ghadames museum

Beetles are very common in North Africa and there are several species of them, ranging from the classical and mythical scarab beetle to the flying and extremely noisy beetles. It was thought the ancient Egyptians' fascination with the scarab beetle stemmed from the apparent spontaneous birth of newborn beetles from beetle dung-balls.

beetles from ghadames museum


gazelle from the sahara



The Italians were among the first researchers to study mosquitoes in the Libyan Sahara. They have collected a large number of samples from various areas and conducted extensive studies.

Tribe Anophelni: Genus Anopheles:

Sub-genus Myzomyia:

  • Anopheles multicolor Camb .:
    The most widely distributed anopheline in Fezzan. Lo Monaco Croce (1931) recorded this species from Murzuq, Gatroun and Tmassah.
  • Anopheles sergenti Theob.:
    Chidini (1934) reported this species from Adiri   and Tmassah. Also reported from el-Jidid near Sebha.
  • Anopheles broussesi Edw.:
    Vermeil (1953) reported it from an area near el-Barkat, near Ghat, west of the southern part of Jabel Acacus
  • Anopheles hispaniola Theob.:
    Foley (1939) reported it from Ghudwah, south of Sebha.
  • Anopheles superpictus Grassi:
    Ghidini (1934) reported it from Gatroun and Tajerhi


Tribe Culicini: Genus Theobaldia:
  • Sub-genus Allotheobaldia
    Theobaldia longiareolata Macq.:

    Vermeil (1953) reported it from Adiri, Brak and Sebha
  • Sub-genus Ochlerotatus:
    Aedes caspiuss Pallas:
    Vermeil (1953) reported it from Murzuq, Brak, Ghudwah.
  • Aedes mariae Sergent:
    Ghidini reported it from Adiri, Murzuq and Gatroun
  • Sub-genus Barraudius:
    Culex pusillus Macq.:
    Vermeil (1953) reported it from Greifa (Wadi Alajal). It was also found near Tripoli.
  • Sub-genus Culex:
    Culex univittatus Theob.:
    Vermeil (1953) reported it from Adiri, Brak, Sebha and Serdeles (Awaynat).
  • Sub-genus Culex:
    Cluex pipiens L.:
    Zavattari reported it from Gatroun; and Vermeil (1953) from Brak and Sabha

Some of the main plants found in the Sahara

sahara acacia



  • Date Palms
  • Thorny Palms
  • Thorny acacias
  • Scrubby bushes
  • Euphorbia
  • Olive-hued shrubs
  • Orange trees
  • Oleander
  • Fig trees
  • Oleander trees
  • Tamarind
  • Alfalfa grass
  • Esparto grass
  • Oat grass
  • Tamarisk
  • Anrthirrnum ramosissimuma
  • Ononis angustissima
  • Cypress
  • Artemisia
  • Thyme
  • Eragrostis
  • Panicum
  • Aristida
  • Wild gourds.
  • Olive trees (olives and olive oil promote healthy living and skin, long life, and vitality).
  • Magaria (a tree bearing a fruit the size of a cherry and of light brown colour. When dry it is pounded and formed into little cakes).
  • Tribulus (blooms after desert rainfall).
  • Calotropis (the milky sap released when the stem is broken is poisonous and should be avoided).
  • Cornulaca monacantha (blooms after desert rainfall, liked by camels).

Please click here for a comprehensive Latin-Tuareg list of plants in the Sahara.


sahara wild bush


desert flowers



sahara path


palm dates from the sahara, libya.

Palm Dates, Sahara, Libya.





Fossilised Wildlife In The Sahara Desert

The Sahara desert is very rich in fossils of extinct wildlife. Some of the fossils found include those of dinosaurs, petrified tree trunks, lizards and marine shells. The following photos show some of the fossils currently on display in Ghadames Museum.

Sahara wildlife fossils


fossils from the sahara


Fossils of wildlife from the sahara, near Ghadames in Libya


petrified trees from the Libyan Sahara, Fezzan, near Germa

Petrified forest remains from the area between Ubari and Awaynat, Fezzan, Southern Libya. The forest can be reached via the road from Sabha to Awaynat. GPS location: N25-57.750 E11-24.616.


Libya Before The Sahara

Libya Before The Sahara, by Professor Noel T. Boaz, of Benghazi's Libyan International Medical University, published by the International Institute for human Evolutionary Research Integrative Centres for Science and Medicine, 2009.

The cover photograph of the paper (see below) is of As-Sahabi Locality P28 and the Petrified Forest fronting Garet Makada ("Elephant Hill"), west of Sebkhat al-Qunnayyin, Libya.

The site of As-Sahabi, in North Central Libya, is one of the greatest fossil sites in Africa; apparently so because a great river once flowed through the region. The Eo-Sahabi River was rich in marine wildlife including large widehead catfish, bichirs, spotted sqeaker, Nile perch, sea turtles, sea cows, long-snouted crocodilian, iniid river dolphins, bream and white sharks, and was surrounded by lush-green trees and many wild animals, chattering birds, bears, hyenas, pigs, monkeys, antelopes, three-toed horses, four-tusked elephants, six-fore-toothed hippos and many more exotic species; all of which have since dissapeared into the corridors of history, leaving behind a sea of fossils. According to Professor Boaz: "The site of As-Sahabi first became known not as a window to the past, but for window panes."


Libya Before The Sahara

Libya Before The Sahara
by Professor Noel T. Boaz,
of Benghazi's Libyan International Medical University,
published by the International Institute for human Evolutionary Research Integrative Centres for Science and Medicine, 2009. Fantastic resource regarding wild life in prehistoric Sahara, including colour illustrations.


Libya Before the Sahara, by Noel T. Boaz
Screenshot from Libya Before The Sahara (source: http://issuu.com/ICSM/docs/libyabeforesahara-online)




Visit our Sahara page for unique desert shots.