While I agree with most of the other reviewers comments,I wouldn't agree that it is the only book you need. Descriptions and explanations are exemplary but the book is black/white illustrations with no color and no photographs.
I was looking for a book or two (as luggage weight limits were tight)to enhance my first safari experience to the national parks of Tanzania. I selected this book based on Amazon.com reader feedback. It was a real help during the safari and continues to be used while reviewing video, photos, and books on African wildlife. I also took a good field guide (Audubon)--but these were widely available on the safari 4WD as well as at the lodges. What makes the Estes book unique is it describes the MEANING of the behavior and social groups you see on the game drives. Almost daily we would see sights that struck me as unexpected--like an all male group of 40 impalas, or zebras leading a line of hundreds of wildebeest; I'd look up that species in the Estes book back at camp and he would explain the meaning of the behavior. My safari mates were all very experienced and involved in zoos in the USA. They would often ask to borrow my "Estes" for their use. In my opinion, if you can only take one book other than your safari journal--take this one. If you can take two, include a good field guide (like Audubon).
Most African Mammal guides are designed for people working in that field. Here, we have one specifically designed for the average enthusiast who wants to know a bit more than provided in the also essential Audobon Guide to African Wildlife. Let's face it - while you may get the occasional bird or even reptile enthusiast, it's the mammals that capture the imagination of the average person on the street when it comes to the wildlife of Africa. You don't have to travel to the Dark Continent to enjoy this one, and - in acknowledgement that people can be interested in wildlife without necessarily being able or willing to go on Safari - it's also designed for use if you're fortunate enough (as I am) to be a regular at a quality zoo or even a regular viewer of "National Geographic" or "Nature". The book is very easy to use and browse through, explaining habits and noting the best parks and reserves for each animal, as well as the animal's major predators or relationship with other predators. You don't have to look through it long to wish for similar volumes for Asia and North America. Certainly worthy of being one of the first books on the shelf of anyone who loves African wildlife.
This is the book my tracker had in his jeep on a trip I took to southern Africa (SA, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia). My tracker didn't need it, but I found it fantastic reading during siestas and the longer drives. There are so many behavioural explanations missing from the standard safari guide. What's the difference between a high-horn threat and a low-horn threat in a roan antelope? I could see the different display postures, and this book told me a little more precisely what the display was all about. The only problem with this book is that there is no guide to spoor, so you'll have to get one. There are no colour photos, which is good for identification, because you don't want to get hung up on slight colour variations. Sometimes a roan antelope is about the same colour as a sable antelope. Look at the other identification marks. Anyway, as soon as I found a bookshop, I bought my own copy, and I still refer back to it.
Forget the field guides - any safari guide worth his or her salt can tell you if that's a Thompson's gazelle or an impala. But what they CAN'T tell you is: why does a warthog kneel while eating? what's up with that hyena sibling rivalry? This book is chock full of the kind of insights that make the difference between a "checklist" safari and really understanding what you're looking at. This is the only book we used on our recent trip. Every time we came across a new animal someone in our group would grab the book and read aloud the best parts. I left it our copy in Kenya with our guide so I'd better go order another copy!
This guide provides concise overviews of physical characteristics, mating, aggression, etc. for common and some not so common species. It is invaluable as a reference and will be valuable after your trip. This book is found on most safaris and at most lodges (at least in Botswana). For me---the omnipresence of the book in Botswana made me want a copy rather than just having the experience of looking at the copies in the land rover. The versions for sale in Africa often are inferior in terms of printing and paper (and also more expensive).
Just returned from a safari to Tanzania. This book, along with the Audubon Field Guide to African Wildlife, made our experience that much better. The information contained in this book embellishes the wildlife viewing experience, by providing fascinating and in-depth information about the animals seen there. The text is organized very well and crammed full with useful information. Highly recommended reading for before a safari, and especially while there.
If you are going on safari, and you need to bring only one book, this is the one. Contrasts with other books in that its focus is on explaining animal behavior -- answers the "what are they doing?" query better than any other book out there. And its intellectually inquisitive aspect makes for interesting reading. Also --- we happened to meet the author by chance, and he was quite nice and interesting; a passionate scholar.
Some folks may argue you don't even need underwear on safari, but after nearly a decade of annual (plus) trips to East Africa, this would have to be the single desert island book for a true wildlife fanatic. The perfect combination between scholarly and readable. Enjoy!