Book reviews:    Tracks and Signs of southern and east african wildlife

Tracks & Signs of southern and east african wildlife
Chris and Tilde Stuart
1 86812 515 7 Softcover
First edition, first impression 1994
Southern Book Publishers Ltd
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Also available as hardback, ISBN 1 82812 563 7, also published by Tutorial Press Ltd. in Zimbabwe, ISBN 0 7974 1371 5

The full title of this book is: Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of southern and east African wildlife. And that is exactly what it is. This book shows tracks, droppings, nests, skulls etc. Is does not concentrate entirely on mammals but shows also nests of birds and insects. Even some markings on trees are included. It is not the most appropriate book for the beginner, for whom Signs of the Wild may be more suitable. But it is a very complete book on eastern and southern african wildlife by the Stuarts. Together with the other book mentioned before, I bought this one during my Field Guide training in South Africa in 1995.

book10b.jpg (30331 bytes)The information is very clear and detailed, showing tracks in drawings and photographs as well. Many species have several drawings and photographs, as seen in the picture about the Rhino to the left here. Sometimes there are photographs of tracks in different soil types.

After the introduction there is a chapter about tracks of about 120 pages. This is followed by chapters about droppings (40 pages), feeding signs (30 pages), nests and shelters (40 pages),  other signs (17 pages) and skulls (10 pages). In the back of the book there is also a mammal habitat and distribution checklist, and a list with english, scientific, afrikaans, german and french names. There is also a birdlist included but this is not complete, just the more common birds are listed.

There is one thing not to be forgotten. You can learn a lot from a book like this, but there is no substitute for experience. None of the really experienced local trackers in southern Africa has gained his knowledge from a book.


Conclusion: So, who wants to read this book? A book about animal shit as my family once called it. If you are seriously interested in studying african wildlife, you should have a look at it. If you are into hiking and walking safari's and you want to really experience the bush, this may be a very good choice. For beginners, I would advice Signs of the Wild, for more experienced people or people with a deeper interest, I can surely advice this book. As mentioned in the review of the other book, I'll take both of them with me.

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