Weekly Wanderlust: Africa

photo 4Africa has long been an object of fascination for travelers. When Herodotus wrote his Histories, the Pyramids and burial complex at Giza were already ancient, extraordinary monuments to the power and engineering capabilities of Egypt in the age of the Pharaohs. The natural wonders of the continent are no less impressive: thousands travel every year to attempt the challenging ascent of snow-capped, volcanic Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, at nearly 6000 meters in elevation the highest in Africa. Separating Zambia and Zimbabwe, the magnificent Victoria Falls are the largest in the world, more than double the height of Niagara, and over a mile in width. But perhaps the greatest natural wonder of Africa is its wildlife, which includes many rare and endangered species. The name Africa conjures visions of lions, giraffes, gorillas, rhinoceros, elephants and countless other beautiful animals known to most only through the world’s zoos. For many, a safari through the Serengeti in Tanzania is the vacation of their dreams.

The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals book jacket The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals is the essential companion for anyone going on safari or interested in African mammals—no other field guide covers the whole continent in a portable format. Now fully revised and updated, it covers all known species of African land mammals and features 780 stunning color illustrations. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, distribution, habitat, food, behavior, adaptations, and conservation status. This new edition includes many newly recognized species, and classification has been fully updated.
Birds of Botswana book jacket Covering all 597 species recorded to date, Birds of Botswana features more than 1,200 superb color illustrations, detailed species accounts, seasonality and breeding bars, and a color distribution map for each species. Drawing on the latest regional and national data, the book highlights the best birding areas in Botswana, provides helpful tips on where and when to see key species, and depicts special races and morphs specific to Botswana. This is the first birding guide written by a Botswana-based ornithologist and the only one dedicated specifically to Botswana.
Animals of the Serengeti book jacket Containing 146 stunning color photos, Animals of the Serengeti is a remarkable look at the mammals and reptiles most likely to be encountered in the world-famous Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. With an eye-catching layout, accessible text, and easy-to-use format, this detailed photographic guide includes 89 species of mammal and reptile. Useful “Top Tips”—shared by local Tanzanian guides that work in the region—provide visitors with insights into behavioral habits and how to locate specific animals. Filled with vivid anecdotes, Animals of the Serengeti will enable any safari traveler to identify the area’s wildlife with ease.

A bird book goes to Africa

[Updated: read Part 2 of this story http://blog.press.princeton.edu/2014/04/15/a-bird-book-goes-to-africa-part-2/]

When Rick Ludkin reached out to us about purchasing a quantity of The Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania for an upcoming trip he had planned, we dutifully took his order, wished him safe travels as one is supposed to when a person is flying halfway across the world, and scarcely gave it another thought. Well, Rick has returned from what must be, from all accounts, the trip of a lifetime and he is blogging about the experience at his Ruthven Park Nature Blog:

My prime “project” in Matangwe was to teach the students about their birds. I had a couple of reasons for doing this: general appreciation of their wildlife; awareness of the region’s various habitats and how they relate to bird populations; identification skills for their own injoyment but also for possible future work as tourist guides and/or field assistants; use of nets and traps for banding with a view to the possible establishment of a banding program for research into African birds and for the development of an eco-tourism destination (this would be a long-term goal).

Source: Ruthven Park Nature Blog, February 28, 2013: http://www.ruthvenpark.ca/natureblog/?p=6374

It is thrilling, as a publisher, to see our books being put to such wonderful, educational use in the field. Rick taught several hundred youngsters how to read a field guide, how to use binoculars, and how to set up mist nets to trap and band birds.

The children review the weavers in Zimmerman, et al's    Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania, Photo credit: Rick Ludkin

The children review the weavers in Zimmerman, et al’s
Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania
Photo credit: Rick Ludkin

To illustrate the challenges Rick faced, here is a short excerpt:

Remember: up until this point, birds were primarily thought of as a food source. To highlight this, there are over 30 species of Weavers at least 10 of which occur in their area. But they had just one name for them: Osogos. Not Jackson’s Golden-backed Weaver or Yellow-backed Weaver or Spectacled Weaver or Black-headed Weaver….just Osogo. Sort of like beef rather than Angus or Hereford or Holstein or Ayrshire. Once they “got” the concept of species they were away to the races….but that took awhile.

Source: Ruthven Park Nature Blog, February 28, 2013: http://www.ruthvenpark.ca/natureblog/?p=6374

However, thanks to Rick’s efforts, he soon had hundreds of students assisting him in setting up and banding birds. The initiative was so successful in fact, he writes:

I had close to 300 bands. I figured this would be plenty (and so did Titus Imbomo at the National Museum who supplied me with them). But I ran out by the third week – I could have banded twice as many if I had had more bands. Oh well….next year.

Source: Ruthven Park Nature Blog, February 22, 2013: http://www.ruthvenpark.ca/natureblog/?p=6342

Hopefully Rick will manage to return next year and he and his students will find our field guide as useful a second time around. In the meantime, you can check out his blogs and photographs of birds he banded while in Africa.

February 21, 2013: http://www.ruthvenpark.ca/natureblog/?p=6306

February 22, 2013: http://www.ruthvenpark.ca/natureblog/?p=6342

February 28, 2013: http://www.ruthvenpark.ca/natureblog/?p=6374

Safari Time: B is for Bee-Eater


This post is part of a Safari Series to celebrate the publication of Birds of Masai Mara by Adam Scott Kennedy and Animals of Masai Mara by Adam Scott Kennedy and Vicki Kennedy.

Check out additional Safari photographs of birds and animals here.

Animals of the Masai Mara
Adam Scott Kennedy & Vicki Kennedy

Birds of the Masai Mara
Adam Scott Kennedy