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saola – (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis) Vu Quang Ox. Only discovered by western scientists in 1992, the soala (150 centimeters tall and 90 kilograms) is considered to be the greatest animal discovery in recent times, and is so different from any currently known species that it was put into its own genus. It is shy and lives in the dense montane forests in the Annamite mountains of Vietnam and Laos. Only 11 individuals have been recorded.
savanna – (Amerind term for plains) Savannas, such as the Serengeti in Africa, are grasslands. They may have a few sparsely distributed drought-resistant, fire-resistant or browse-resistant trees. Savannas are also referred to as llanos or cerrado.
scavenger – An animal that eats decaying plants or animals.
sclerophyllous – Having tough, leathery leaves. In the tropics it is a characteristic of heath forest.
scree community – Plant and animal community that lives among the accumulated stones and rocky debris lying along mountain slopes.
semidecidious – Forest of broad-leaf trees where just a few species lose their leaves during the dry season.
seriema – (Family: Cariamidae) Long-necked, long-legged birds that are poor fliers but fast runners. They live in the grasslands and forests of Latin America. They feed on small animals. They look similar to the secretary bird of Africa.
shrike – (Family: Laniidae) Medium-sized predatory songbirds with hooked bills similar to birds of prey. They live in open areas and on the edges of forests. Many shrikes impale their prey on thorns. They are found in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.
siltation – Clogging of waterways with very fine, loose sediment. Siltation is closely related with deforestation and soil erosion. The Yangtze River is the 4th most silt-laden river in the world. Every year, it carries about 680 million tons of silt to the East China Sea.
silverswords – (Argyroxiphium spp.; Family: Asteraceae) Woody plants found only in Hawaii that vary in shape from cushion plants to shrubs to trees.
sisal – (Agave sisalana) Bahamian hemp. A widely cultivated South American plant species whose fiber is used for twine.
siskin – (Faimly: Fringillidae) Siskins are seed-eating songbirds in the finch family. They are the size of goldfinches (about 8 centimeters).
skinks – (Family: Scincidae) The most species-rich lizard family with about 1,200 species. Their scales are smooth and they eat mainly insects. They are found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.
solenodons – (Family: Solenodontidae) Solendons look like shrews (although they are not related) but are larger (30 centimeters long). The two species are only found on Haiti and the Dominican Republic and in Cuba. They live in burrows in wooded areas. They are active at night, hunting for insects. Habitat destruction is their biggest threat.
species – A distinct kind of animal. Members of the same species can reproduce with each other.
speckled padloper – (Homopus signatus) A small turtle found in the Western Cape (South Africa).
springbok – (Antidorcas marsupialis) A medium-sized antelope (35 kilograms) that lives in the dry savannas and sub-desert regions of South Africa.
statutory – Laws or regulations that are created and enacted by legislatures.
steenbok – (Raphicerus campestris) A small antelope (15 kilograms) of the dry regions of southern and eastern Africa that prefers some dense cover.
steppe – Vast treeless plains, sometimes called shortgrass prairie. Generally steppe areas are arid with extreme range in temperature. Among the most famous steppes are the great plains in southeast Russia and southwest Asia.
stoats – Stoats are small weasels. They feed mainly on small mammals. They were introduced to New Zealand in the late 1800s to control introduced rabbits. However, they now kill much of the native wildlife (for example, about 60 percent of all kiwi bird chicks) that never evolved with mammalian predators.
strand vegetation – The plant community along the narrow littoral marine zone that includes the beach, foredune and the sandy habitat up to the edge of stabilized dunes or inland vegetation. Strand vegetation are generally perennial plants that can tolerate salt spray, blowing sand, storm surf and high tides.