Book Review: Stuarts’ Field Guide to National Parks & Game Reserves of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi

If you are old to remember mammalwatching in the 1990s you might also remember how you used to plan trips. Before the internet, before emails,  before Google translate.

I honestly have no idea how I managed even to leave the house. But I do seem to remember books played an integral part in deciding where to go and how to get there. Some of my most treasured possessions included guides to the national parks of the USA, and the wildlife and parks of India. I knew every word and every picture. I would spend hours flicking through the pages and day dreaming.

This new field guide from Chris and Tilde Stuart – on the national parks and reserves of five southern African countries – takes me back to that time. If I had had this book in the 90s I would have read it about 20 times, sold what little I owned, and jumped on a plane back to Zambia.


Like all of Chris and Tilde’s books this one is follows a repeated logical structure. Each park has short sections on climate, history, landscape, vegetation and of course wildlife viewing. Each country gets a few pages of introduction too.

Some 50 conservation areas are covered from five southern African countries. I haven’t visited Zambia or Zimbabwe since 1992, and have never been to Botswana and Malawi. But from what I remember – and from what I know about Namibia during more recent visits – the information here seems excellent. Just as you would expect from two of Africa’s finest mammalogists and mammalwatchers (did you hear their podcast – Episode 21).

This is not a field guide, nor is it a detailed guide on where to find some of the more obscure mammals of the region (and who needs that when you have mammalwatching.com !). But it is a lovely book to browse to seek inspiration for where and when to go on a trip to the region. The Internet is good and all that, but this project works so much better as a book. I challenge anyone to pick up a copy and not start itching for a trip to southern Africa.

The Stuarts have also put out two new pocket sizes ‘quick ID’ guides covering the carnivores and the primates of Africa. Don’t leave home without them.

For more information visit www.stuartonnature.com. The field guide and quick ID guides are published by Penguin Random House in South Africa and Struik Nature and available at various bookstores and online in many countries.

Jon

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