The modern African natural history books are a real mixture - from field guides and books on conservation issues to photographic coffee-table volumes.
Please note, this page contains affiliate links, which means Shakari Connection receives a commission if you make a purchase using these links.
The Myth Of Wild Africa: Conservation Without Illusion by Jonathan S Adams and Thomas O McShane (1992). Western explorers and hunters created and perpetuated the myth of Africa as the world's last great wilderness, a sparsely populated land of spectacular beauty and savage mystery. The conservationists built national parks upon this myth, ignoring the fact that this continent was filled with ancient cultures that have lived with wildlife for countless generations. They took away rural Africans' land and livelihood, squeezing them into smaller areas that could not support their farming methods. The authors describe new conservation programmes that include more Africans in the planning, execution and financial benefits of the business. For where programmes have been set up that improve farming and other ways of making a living, Africans have helped government and conservation authorities in preserving wildlife.
The Hunters And The Hunted by Karl and Katherine Ammann (1989) feature magnificent colour photographs of African predators and prey.
Maasai Mara: Kenya's Great Game Reserve by Karl Ammann (1990) is a pictorial study of the Mara's combination of lush grasslands, isolated hillocks and forested river banks which provide a rich habitat for wildlife.
Cheetah by Karl and Katherine Ammann (1984) is a chronicle of the 2 years the authors spent studying the cheetahs in Kenya.
Some Birds And Mammals Of Africa by Axel Amuchastegui (1979) with descriptive text by Hilary Hook. Five fine coloured plates of birds one being the Black Eagle and touraco and nine coloured plates of mammals amongst which are a lion and leopard.
Wild Heart Of Africa by Rolf Baldus. The Selous is the largest protected wildlife area in the world. There are no people living within its boundaries and it comes some of the greatest wildlife concentrations on the continent, including 70 000 elephant, over 120 000 buffalo more than half a million antelope and a couple of thousand large carnivores roaming freely in its forests, riverine thickets, steppes and mountain ranges. The contributors to this book share over a century of work in the reserve. They also share the belief that the Selous is not only the largest and oldest protected area in Africa but its also one of the finest in the world.
The Eponym Dictionary Of Mammals by Bo Beolens, Michael Watkins and Michael Grayson (2009) offers a look at the real lives behind the scientific and vernacular mammal names one encounters in field guides, textbooks, journal articles and other scholarly works. This is a guide to the people whose names are immortalized in mammal nomenclature and includes more than 1300 entries that explain the origins of over 2000 mammal species names. Kindle Version
Sir Michael Blundell (1907 - 1993) was a British farmer and politician in Kenya. He arrived in Mombasa in 1925 at the age of 18 with two tin trunks, a shotgun and £100. After a short apprenticeship in western Kenya, he farmed in the Rift Valley where he began the studies of nature which led to his two authoritative guide books to Kenya's wild flowers.
So Rough a Wind: Kenya Memoirs by Sir Michael Blundell (1964). Kenya memoirs of a farmer and politician over 40 years in East Africa.
The Last British Liberals In Africa by Sir Michael Blundell & Garfield Todd (1999) is a study of the clash of two traditions, British liberalism and African nationalism, and an examination of how Michael Blundell in Kenya and Garfield Todd in Zimbabwe used their liberal backgrounds to further the future of their adopted countries, despite threats and detention.
The Wild Flowers Of Kenya by Sir Michael Blundell (1982). This book deals with all 311 species illustrated plus allied and other species to a total of 525. There is a key to groups of families, illustrations of leaf and inflorescence forms and arrangements and a colour index of all plants described, greatly helping identification.
Collin's Guide To The Wild Flowers Of East Africa by Sir Michael Blundell (1987)
Elephants Of Africa by Paul Bosman & Anthony Hall Martin (1986) is informative and scientifically accurate. Hall-Martin's fascinating text looks at the existence of the elephant in many different areas of Africa. It clearly puts the case for the preservation and proper management of the earth's complex ecosystems and faces all the pertinent issues of elephant biology and conservation.
Run Rhino Run by Esmond and Chrysee Bradley Martin (1982) describes the characteristics and behaviour of the rhino in its few remaining habitats and give a fascinating account of its history and myths that seem always to have surrounded it.
Blood Ivory: The Massacre Of The African Elephant by Robin Brown (2008) tells the story of how the professional hunting fraternity were the first to realise the threat to the elephant and how they kick-started the whole conservation movement. It is not a story with happy ending as the history of the conservation movement is essentially a tale of war - colonialists at war with traditional customs; newly-independent African countries at war with one another; poachers and smugglers at war with any kind of constraint; and international bodies fighting for the suppression of damaging information. Robin Brown paints a vivid picture of the impact of hunting on Africa's elephant population and the powerful personalities of those involved on both sides of the massacre - from Cecil Rhodes to Dennis Finch-Hatton and Edward, Prince of Wales to David Sheldrick. Kindle Version
Big Cats: A Portrait Of The Animal World by Andrew Cleave (1995) is a lively account of the most remarkable and fascinating of land predators, the world's hunting cats.
John Cloudsley-Thompson (b.1921) was the Professor of Zoology at the University of Khartoum and Professor Emeritus at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has written over fifty books and is a specialist on desert reptiles and arthropods.
Animal Twilight: Man And Game In Eastern Africa by John L Cloudsley-Thompson (1967) traces the history of man's impact on African animals with extracts from the works of the great game hunters and early explorers.
The Zoology of Tropical Africa by John L Cloudsley-Thompson (1969) is a comprehensive survey of the present state of scientific knowledge about the fauna of tropical Africa. The author describes the ecological regions of Africa, establishes the environmental setting for his subjects and goes on to deal with populations and migrations and with adaptions to the environment.
Animal Migration by John L Cloudsley-Thompson (1978)
Sahara Desert: Key Environments by John L Cloudsley-Thompson (1984) is a scientific monograph on the Sahara Desert.
Hugh Bamford Cott (1900 - 1987) was a British zoologist, an authority on both natural and military camouflage and a scientific illustrator and photographer. Many of his field studies took place in Africa, where he was especially interested in the Nile crocodile.
Looking At Animals: A Zoologist In Africa by Hugh B Cott (1975). A famous zoologist and explorer, Hugh Cott has been looking at animals all his life. His purpose in this book is to share his fascination with the wildlife of that richest of all regions, East Africa.
Uganda In Black And White by Hugh B Cott (1959). The pen drawings of the author are divided into four parts, Buganda and Eastern Province, Karamoja District, Northern Province and Western Province.
Adaptive Coloration In Animals by Hugh B Cott (1940) is a textbook about adaptive and warning coloration and mimicry published during the Second World War and used extensively ever since as the key guide to camouflage techniques. Free eBook
The Life And Lore Of The Elephant by Robert Delort (1992). As ancient as man, elephants have scattered across the Old World. In Asia they have been domesticated, worshipped, sanctified. In Africa they were respected as the king of beasts, but feared and shunned. In the West they are famed for their legendary strength, wisdom and benevolence. Now we can follow the whole story of the elephant, from the extinct mammoths of the last Ice Age to the present-day battle for survival as elephants are hunted for their ivory.
The Conservation and Biology of Desert Antelopes by Alexander Dixon and David Jones (1988) examines all the aspects of the ecology and conservation of several antelope species.
Battle For The Elephants by Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton (1992) tells the inside story of the author's battle to draw the world's attention to the plight of the elephants and the injustice and destruction of which the elephants were victims.
Among the Elephants by Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton (1975) In 1965, Iain Douglas-Hamilton accepted the challenge to solve the problem of 450 African elephants confined in the small Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania. He lived among them for 5 years and with other scientists pioneered the radio-tracking of their movements. He also learned to recognise the individual elephants and he and his wife made the first systematic study of their behaviour in the wild.
Elephants: The Vanishing Giants by Dan Freeman (1980) is a well-written natural history of the evolution, history and current plight of the elephant, and the conservation efforts which are ongoing to try to protect these magnificient animals.
Antonie Marinus Harthoorn (1923 - 2012) was a veterinarian, born in the Netherlands and raised in England, known for his role in the development of large animal tranquilizers. He and his colleagues invented the M-99 capture drug and refined the tranquilliser gun for darting animals.
The animal orphanage set up by Dr Harthoorn and his wife in Kenya inspired the TV series Daktari.
The Flying Syringe by Antonie Marinus Harthoorn (1970). The author pioneered the use of immobilising drugs on larger wild animals by the projection of loaded darts. His work included the rescue of stranded animals at the Kariba Dam and the famous relocation of white rhinoceros in Natal.
The Chemical Capture Of Animals: A Guide To The Chemical Restraint Of Wild And Captive Animals by Antonie Marinus Harthoorn (1976)
Lion by Deirdre Jackson (2010) paints a fresh portrait of this animal, drawing on folktales, the latest scientific research, and even lion-tamer's memoirs, as well as other little-known sources to tell the story of lions famous and anonymous, familiar and surprising. Kindle Version
Mammals Of Africa by Jonathan Kingdon (2013) is a series of 6 volumes which describe, in detail, every currently recognized species of African land mammal. This is the first time that such extensive coverage has ever been attempted, and the volumes incorporate the very latest information and detailed discussion of the morphology, distribution, biology and evolution (including reference to fossil and molecular data) of Africa's mammals.
The Kingdon Pocket Guide To African Mammals by Jonathan Kingdon (2005) is an essential guide for anyone with an interest in wildlife who visits Africa - from the hunter and tourist on safari to the more experienced naturalist. Compact and beautifully illustrated, it is ideal for use in the field, while its coverage is the most comprehensive for any book of its size.
The Kingdon Field Guide To African Mammals by Jonathan Kingdon (2003) will enable identification of all land mammals likely to be seen anywhere in Africa. Detailed accounts, with colour illustrations, are provided for most species, but some complex small mammal groups are summarized by genera. The colour illustrations show both sexes in sexually dimorphic species and there are also a wealth of line drawings illustrating typical behaviours, the function of camouflaged or disruptive markings and the details of interspecific variation among closely allied species. Distribution maps show the ranges of most species covered.
Charles Thomas Astley Maberly (1905 - 1972) was a British born naturalist, wildlife artist and author who moved to South Africa and bought a farm which became a wildlife sanctuary. He wrote several books on wild animals and illustrated a many books by other writers such as T V Bulpin and Wolhuter.
Game Animals Of Southern Africa by C T Astley Maberley (1963) is a study of southern African mammals in their habitat, with delightful illustrations by Maberly.
Animals Of East Africa by C T Astley Maberley (1960). Identification and information on every animal in East Africa.
Animals Of Rhodesia by C T Astley Maberley (1959)
Animals Of Kruger National Park: A Guide To Animals Which Visitors May See by C T Astley Maberley (1951) is a KNP wildlife guide in pamphlet form.
What Buck Is That? A Guide To The Antelope And Other More Notable Animals Of Kruger National Park by C T Astley Maberley (1951)
Dr Johan Marais is an author, photographer, veterinarian and wildlife surgeon with a passion for elephants. (Not to be confused with Johan Marais, herpetologist).
Great Tuskers Of Africa by Johan Marais with David Hadaway (2006). The author and artist share their passion for the giants of the wilderness, providing a celebration in words and pictures of past and present tuskers.
In Search Of Africa's Great Tuskers by Johan Marais & Alan Ainslie (2010). The author travels to some of the most remote and beautiful African landscapes in his quest to find and photograph Africa's great tuskers, and to find out what is being done to ensure their survival for future generations. Illustrated with magnificent photographs and Alan Ainslie's drawings.
Johan Marais is a renowned South African herpetologist and author.
Snakes And Snake Bite In Southern Africa by Johan Marais (1999) is a practical, user-friendly guide to identification and first aid treatment in the event of a snake bite.
A Complete Guide To The Snakes Of Southern Africa by Johan Marais (1992) is a detailed and comprehensive guide to the 151 snakes indigenous to southern Africa and covers all essential aspects of snake biology and behaviour.
Snake Versus Man: A Guide To Dangerous And Common Harmless Snakes Of Southern Africa by Johan Marais (1984) covers all 23 species of potentially dangerous snakes found in Southern Africa, as well as 16 harmless species that are either easily confused with dangerous snakes. Information on each species includes descriptions, distribution, field notes and details of venom.
What's That Snake? A Starter's Guide To Snakes Of Southern Africa by Johan Marais (2008) covers snake identification for the beginner. Snakes of the region are grouped according to family likeness, common behaviour or appearance and the reader is encouraged to recognize the characteristics of the group before focusing on individual species.
Snakes by Johan Marais (1997) is an informative survey of snakes of the world.
A Guide To The Reptiles Of Southern Africa by Johan Marais & Graham Alexander (2007) introduces the 517 reptile species currently described in the region, arranged into three main groups - snakes and lizards, crocodiles and shelled reptiles. Drawing on the latest scientific research, the authors start with a discussion of reptile identification, diversity, biology, distribution patterns and where to find and observe them, as well as unravelling the facts and fallacies of snakebite.
What's That Reptile? A Starter's Guide To Reptiles Of Southern Africa by Johan Marais (2011) this Kindle book introduces beginners to the diverse reptile fauna of southern Africa, including its snakes, lizards, crocodiles, tortoises, terrapins and turtles. It gives helpful information on the appearance, distribution, habitat, behaviour, diet and breeding habits of species.
Behaviour And Ecology Of The African Buffalo by Mark J Mloszewski (1983) is a unique 10 year study of the Cape buffalo. The author lived with the herds, moving among the animals and becoming accepted by them as a companion. The result is a book written from a highly unusual viewpoint and containing unique data. The book discusses the ancestry, zoological classification and biogeographical setting of the African buffalo and describes the interactions of buffaloes with other species. The individual and collective behavior of the buffalo in the wild covers herd movements, feeding activities, hierarchies and individuals, reproductive and other behaviors.
Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years In The Life Of An Elephant Family by Cynthia Moss (1988). The author has studied the elephants in Kenya's Amboseli National Park for over twenty-seven years and her long-term research has revealed much of what we now know about these complex and intelligent animals.
Echo Of The Elephants: The Story Of An Elephant Family by Cynthia Moss & Martyn Colbeck(1992)
Portraits In The Wild: Behavior Studies Of East African Mammals by Cynthia Moss (1975). This book has resurrected the most fascinating aspects of the lives of various species and presented these in a most readable acount, one made especially valuable to the layman by the accuracy with which it is written. Each chapter is devoted to one species or group of related species and describes the animal's life as it is now known and the work of the scientists who made the discoveries.
The Long African Day by Norman Myers (1972) is a comprehensive analysis of man, Africa and its wildlife by an accomplished photo-journalist, ecologist and conservationist. Through text and photos, this book takes you through 24 hours of an East African day, and through the 255 million years over which it has evolved.
An Arid Eden: A Personal Account Of Conservation In The Kaokoveld by Garth Owen-Smith (2012). The author has spent almost his entire working life fighting against official ignorance, harsh climatic conditions, poachers and other enemies of Africa's fast-diminishing wildlife. In the process he has lived and worked in a number of countries but his chosen battlefield has always been the most challenging place of all, Kaokoveld in north-western Namibia.
Ecology and Behaviour of the African Buffalo: Social Inequality And Decision Making by Herbert H T Prins (1995). After many years of original and innovative research on the African buffalo, particularly at Lake Manyara in northern Tanzania, Herbert Prins has now summarized the results of much of this widely-respected work in this fascinating book.
The Selous In Africa: A Long Way From Anywhere by Rob Ross (2015) is an in-depth look at the largest protected area in Africa, spectacularly photographed by Robert J Ross. Includes excerpts from 'Sand Rivers' by the late Peter Matthiessen with informative texts on the history and ecology of the Selous and the problems and opportunities it faces.
Elephants: A Portrait Of The Animal World by Leonard Lee Rue (1999). The author traces this ancient respected lineage and then discusses in detail the traits and characteristics of both the African and the Indian elephant as they exist in the wild today.
Way Of The Whitetail by Leonard Lee Rue (2005) is written in his trademark authoritative yet soft science style and covers the whitetail's behavior through the seasons, month by month. Rue also provides insight into the sensory abilities, versatility and adaptability of this animal.
Other Leonard Lee Rue books which are primarily about North American sporting game and wildlife.
Tall Blondes: A Book About Giraffes by Lynn Sherr (1997) traces the cultural history of the giraffe from its first appearance in Europe in 46 BC through medieval bestiaries and up to the modern giraffe star of a TV movie and much more.
The African Buffalo: A Study Of Resource Limitation Of Populations by A R E Sinclair (1977) is a basic description of the species, including the early history, distribution, evolution, habitat requirements, food preferences and environmental physiology.
The Hunted Ones by John Sinclair (1965) is about Africa's most popular wildlife - all those interested in wild animals in their natural surroundings will enjoy this book.
African Antelope by Peter Skirka (1971) is a collection of bold and ecovative paintings of African antelope by Peter Skirka, a North American artist-illustrator noted for his faithful and painstaking rendition of wildlife in its native habitat. The introductory and descriptive text by Dr Wendell Swank is a careful study by an experienced wildlife biologist. The foreword is by Anthony Dyer.
Lion by G L Smuts (1982) is the story of Kruger National Park lion management operations.
Field Guide To Trees Of Southern Africa by Piet Van Wyk (1997) is a guide to more than 1,000 varieties of tree species arranged in easy-to-use format. Leaf and stem silhouettes help direct the user to the correct species, and full colour photographs make identification that much easier.
Gamebirds Of South Africa: Field Identification And Management by P J Viljoen (2005) features 62 species of gamebirds, including guineafowl, francolin, partridge, quail, sandgrouse, duck, geese, snipe, bustard and korhaan. This includes species no longer hunted but which are included to emphasise their conservation.
Duikers Of Africa - Masters Of The African Forest Floor by Vivian Wilson (2002)is the most in-depth study of duikers ever produced. It is based on 12 years of field work.
From Wilderness Vision to Farm Invasions: Conservation And Development In Zimbabwe's South-East Lowveld by William Wolmar (2007) explores conservation and development programmes in Zimbabwe's south-east Lowveld which have been rooted in the theory of this landscape as wilderness. The uses, perceptions and experiences of this landscape by African people have been ignored in policies derived from the 'wilderness vision'.
The Education Of Nagomo by Jacque Wurfbain (1990) gives children insight into such ideas as conservation, habitat destruction, overpopulation, poaching and extinction.