Chris and Mathilde Stuart have revised and expanded their Field Guide. The 5th edition (2015) is quite delightful. I have been using the Smithers’ Mammals of Southern Africa revised and updated by Peter Apps up to now, but the Stuarts’ book will be going with me to the Kruger Park when I head off there next week.
This morning I found a photograph of a little mouse on Facebook posted by Kate Gericke in Kgalagadi Sightings. She was asking for identification. I used this book to make the identification – desert pygmy mouse.
I love it when a field guide is actually sufficiently user friendly for me to use. If I can use it then anyone (literate) can use it. I am definitely not a boffin in these matters.
Stuarts’ Field Guide is easy to use on land mammals, particularly when one has a photo from which to work. The section on bats may not be as easy. Bats are small and generally seen in the dark. The marine mammals will probably also be more challenging. Both sections, however, are detailed and specific. There is no room for error on the part of the book so if one fails to make an identification, it must be because there is insufficient information from the sighting.
My late father was an avid armchair traveler. How he would have loved this book. It would have given him endless hours of pleasure as he studied the difference between one type of pygmy mouse and another, as he learned about wonderful antelope he would never see in the flesh and whales he would never hear call. It is that kind of book as well as a practical field guide.
It is impossible to transport an entire library of nature books and field guides on every trip. Every book has to earn its place. I have books that stay at home and books that stay in the car. I have other books which I take into the hides and picnic sites. I want them with me. This one would simply stay in the book bag in the car. It is mostly likely to be wanted there.
The 456 page book is richly illustrated with photographs (mainly by the authors) except for the marine animals which we drawn by David Thorpe. Distribution maps, size indicators and track drawings all make this a most useful book. For more about the authors – http://www.stuartonnature.com.
- Title: Stuarts’ Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa
- Authors: Chris & Mathilda Stuart
- Edition: 5th (2015)
- Publisher: Struik Nature
- Cost: R330
- ISBN: 978 1 77584 1111