I particularly liked the pictorial behaviour guides. As others noted it is not an id guide but a good guide to compliment your mammal id guide and help you better understand the behaviours you are seeing and natural history of the animal you have seen.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.