By: Magriet Kruger
The last time I was in Kruger I saw a herd of kudu walking in a dry riverbed. A rustling sound in the bush sent them bounding away. As sightings go it wasn't particularly special: it was a smallish herd and we basically saw them running off. But, viewed in context of this book, what I saw was a prime example of nature's masterful adaptations. When kudu are put to flight, they lift their tails, flashing the fluffy white underparts and making it easier for the others to follow. Of course, whatever's in pursuit also has a useful beacon to keep in sight. But this is where kudu get clever; the moment they drop their tail, the beacon disappears and the predator loses track of its quarry.
This snippet is just one fascinating fact on more than 300 pages packed with information about the most commonly encountered species, from lion to dung beetles. The book is organized into separate sections for mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, insects and other invertebrates, and tracking and field signs.
Game Ranger in Your Backpack uses a mind-map layout and pictures linked to information text boxes to help you make sense of what you see. I like the fact that the text has highlighted keywords so you can see important features at a glance.
As a field guide Pattrick has spent years in the bush and it shows in the photographs. There are intimate shots of cubs, pics of hippo hoofing it and close-ups of creatures that are normally quite shy. The rich selection of photographs means you'll enjoy this book just as much from the comfort of your armchair as when game viewing in the bush.
What sets Game Ranger in Your Backpack apart is the wealth of fascinating insights and interesting titbits you wouldn't find in standard field guides. It really is like having a game ranger on call.