Title: Wild Ways
Subtitle: Field companion to the behaviour of southern African mammals
Author: Peter Apps; Penny Meakin
Genre: Fauna, Mammals
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2014
ISBN 9781920544850 / ISBN 978-1-920544-85-0
Softcover, 18 x 23 cm, 220 pages, throughout colour photographs
This guide to behaviour complements traditional field guides that focus on what mammals look like, where they live and what they eat. If you are interested not only in identifying species, but also in understanding what animals are doing, and why, here you will find descriptions and explanations of the fascinating habits of southern Africa's mammals. How much we know about the behaviour of the various species of southern African mammals varies enormously. Whole books have been written about some species, but we know only the barest details about others. To decide what to squeeze into the limited space of a field guide, the authors took into account the abundance, distribution and habits of the various species, and included the species and behaviours that an amateur has some chance of being able to see, as well as a few behaviours that are rare and especially interesting. Consequently, many bats and rodents and most marine mammals have been omitted.
Like most fields of interest, the study of animal behaviour has its own specialist terminology. When this is used properly it does what it is meant to do: it provides a clear, concise way of talking about important concepts. Used wrongly, as it all too often is, it becomes merely a source of confusion and misunderstanding. As far as possible, using specialist jargon in Wild Ways: Field companion to the behaviour of southern African mammals is avoided, and technical terms are included in a glossary for readers who find them used, or misused, elsewhere. In this guide, the common and scientific names and the sequence in which species appear follow the 2013 edition of Smithers' Mammals of Southern Africa. When using this book in the field you should keep in mind that, at any time, you might see something that the theories do not predict, and that books on animal behaviour do not describe. That, of course, is one of the main reasons why studying animal behaviour is so interesting.