Book reviews:    Creatures of Habit

book36a.jpg (22523 bytes) Title
Creatures of Habit
Peter Apps, Richard du Toit
1 86872 433 6
1st, 2000
Struik Publishers Ltd
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This beautiful book is a combination of a textbook on the behaviour of African mammals as well as a marvellous photo book. It is a joint effort of Peter Apps and Richard du Toit. Peter Apps is well known authority on the field of animal behaviour. He holds a M.Sc. and a PhD. from the university of Pretoria and has written many books and articles on southern African wildlife. Richard du Toit has a B.Sc. in zoology, but his interest has moved from pure science into wildlife photography. His beautiful photographs have appeared in many books and magazines over the past years. So a book from these two people holds a promise, but I can already tell you that it does live up to it promise.

book36b.jpg (56908 bytes)This book is beautiful book in many ways. When you hold it in your hands, you can immediately see that it has been published with great care. It has a hardcover and it is printed on high quality paper, so that it brings out the photographs with all detail and colors.

As I mentioned before, this book is a combination of text book on the behaviour of mammals and a photo book. As a text book it is very well written and explains a lot of the behavioural patterns of mammals in southern Africa. It does focus mainly on the mammals of southern Africa but is still very usable for east African wildlife too.

The level of this book is a bit above the absolute novice and you can tell that it is written by a scientist. But still it is written in a clear way and very understandable. It would be a great book for anyone visiting the reserves and parks of (southern) Africa, with an interest in the mammals living there that rises above mere identification. This is not the kind of book you would bring with you into the field. For that purpose it is too big and also just too beautiful. As a field guide on mammal behaviour, the Safari Companion would be much better suited. No, this is a book that you would study at home. As a preparation for a safari or just to learn more about these beautiful animals.

This book is also very interesting for wildlife photographers visiting the region. It will help you understand the (inter)actions of animals much better. This better understanding may even lead to the ability to forecast the behaviour of animals. A skill extremely valuable to the wildlife photographer. Of course a book alone can not do this and experience is indispensable, but this book will help you.


book36c.jpg (47175 bytes)After an introduction this book deals with the animal behaviour in six chapters. These are: Birth and Infancy, Food and Water, Strategies for Survival, Social life, Communication and the last last one Reproduction. Each of these chapters describes the behaviour of the different mammal groups.

To assist the text, the book has beautiful photos showing the specific aspects of behaviour very clearly. But these photos are not just images to aid the text. They are all splendid photographs of African mammals. In fact, a book with these photographs alone would already be a great photo book. It is a great accomplishment for one photographer to supply all the images for such a book. Usually many photographers are needed to supply images for this kind of book. The fact that one photographer can supply all images, and in such quality, shows a lot of the skill of this photographer.

Just browsing through the book and looking at the beautiful images is wonderful way to spend an evening or afternoon. Makes you want to start planning the next safari immediately. But even if you can't visit Africa personally, it is still a great book.

  A combination of a text book on animal behaviour and a great photo book. Put together you get what this book is, a wonderful book. To read and browse through again and again. Invaluable for wildlife photographers. Highly recommended !

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All text and images 1991 - 2011 Hans Martens