A field guide for the intrepid traveller

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Smithers’ Mammals of Southern Africa

Struik Nature

R250

Some veteran road travellers, those South Africans who relish exploring the endless nooks, crannies and wonders of own region, carry with them reference libraries.

Smithers’ Mammals of Southern Africa is a worthy addition to the bird, reptile, tree and plant field guides in that portable book rack on the car’s back seat.

The 392-page work contains anything from the 40-ton humpback whale to the 10g Natal long-fingered bat, and rhinoceroses to moles and shrews. Then there are the feared, but fascinating carnivores.

Each is accompanied by an ample illustration, its description, diet, behaviour, a distribution map, its habitat, activity times, its International Union for Conservation of Nature status, and more. It also carries spoor marks and quick profile comparisons between like species.

This is the fourth edition of Smithers, which was first published 25 years ago. It features a gallery of experts, updating and adding to material.

The third edition was published 12 years ago, and this revised one takes into account what updater Peter Apps’ preface describes as “a radical change in our understanding of the evolutionary relationships between mammals”.

The “Small Smithers”, as it is known, is highly accessible. It is spaciously laid out, based on thorough science but avoiding those numbing technical terms.

It is a field guide that will enhance the adventures of those truly wanting to appreciate the extraordinary world they’re in. – Daily News

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