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The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals

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The best field guide to observing and understanding the behavior of African mammals and an indispensable tool for naturalists traveling to Africa! The Second Edition has been fully revised and includes a new preface. The Safari Companion enables readers to recognize and interpret visible behavioral activities, such as courtship rituals, territorial marking, aggression, and care of young. Each account of over 80 species includes a behavioral table in which the unique actions of the hoofed mammals, carnivores, and primates are described for easy reference. Other features   "The best behavioral field guide ever."―Sy Montgomery, author of Tamed and Untamed "The book is more than a field guide; it is a valuable tool for conservation."―Kathryn S. Fuller, President, World Wildlife Fund (U.S.A.)

459 pages, Paperback

First published February 1, 1993

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Richard D. Estes

10 books2 followers

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5 stars
83 (44%)
4 stars
64 (34%)
3 stars
29 (15%)
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8 (4%)
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Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for Kelly H. (Maybedog).
2,484 reviews221 followers
June 2, 2012
This is an amazing book and I'm angry that I hadn't heard of it when I went to Africa. I would have taken it everywhere. Very thorough, this book has descriptions of a large quantity of the most commonly seen wildlife in Africa. It includes sub species for example three different types of zebra. The information includes general information and description, social structure, movement, reproduction and in depth descriptions of communication in different relationships such as mother and child, aggression and dominance, courtship, play and so forth. Yet all this is described clearly and concisely in two or three pages. This book is genius and I must own a copy.
Profile Image for Dottie Suggs.
194 reviews8 followers
April 15, 2019
very informative with line drawings of all of the animals and details on all the mammals one might encounter in Africa. This book goes into behavior, size, habitat, mating, and sounds. It will be fun to have some of this knowledge before traveling to Botswana.
Profile Image for Sandra.
13 reviews
September 24, 2018
There is no other book quiet like this: an in-depth guide with thorough explanations of african mammals, the way they live, behave and interact with each other. If you want to identify the animals you are seeing on a safari, you need a guide book - there are plenty around and quiet a few really good ones. If you want to understand the animals you are seeing on a safari, what behaviours they are displaying and why, this book is indispensable. To me, this book has become one of my few all-time favorites and I highly recommend it as an essential to everyone who wants to know more about the mammals in Africa - other than being able to name them correctly, that is ;-)

I only wished there was either Mr Estes or someone else continuing the research he did and updating this book on a regular basis, especially when it comes to changes in the natural habitat of the African mammals and how they adapt to this.
Profile Image for Neill & Linda Brownstein.
93 reviews1 follower
June 30, 2017
Botswana Safari for Linda's 70th Birthday...

We have a few books to read in advance of going on safari next month. This field guide was recommend as a resource to become familiar with and later refer back to learn about individual animal behavior.
Profile Image for Ron Weddle.
18 reviews1 follower
January 10, 2019
Wonderfully written and thorough account of practically all the mammalian species of Africa. It is too thorough for anyone who is not traversing the entire continent. It was sometimes difficult to determine if a given species could be found in the area in which I would be traveling (Zambia).
Profile Image for PoachingFacts.
45 reviews16 followers
December 17, 2015
The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals; Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, and Primates - Revised & Expanded (purple cover) by Richard D. Estes supersedes the earlier 1993 edition (orange cover) as the foremost field guide to African mammals in East Africa and Southern Africa. It includes a number of updates to species names and taxonomy classifications and three chapters on making the most of a safari. This makes the Safari Companion an ideal guide for novice- and intermediate-level naturalists, photo- and hunting-safari tourists, and photographers in general -- and a PoachingFacts favorite book.

Special emphasis is given to understanding the social grouping and behavior of mammalian species so that observers can make informed decisions when looking for a particular gender of the species during specific seasons (such as a kudu male with his females during mating season) and specific behaviors (such as lions on the hunt). The Safari Companion has at least one black-and-white illustration for each animal and then small graphics depicting notable postures or behavioral stances key to reading the body-language of the animal in the field. Another important feature is the social/territorial/mating organizational system which is depicted for each animal by easily understandable symbols. This detailed guide to behavior is truly unparalleled.

While the paperback version of Safari Companion is comparatively large for a proper "field guide" -- measuring 9x6x1 inches -- it's much more robust and detailed than smaller "pocket guides" that might be viewed as alternatives. But it does come in a digital format for Kindle readers. Ultimately it may be necessary for naturalists and field observers to bring two or three guides with them to cover the best range of wildlife species while also providing key details for each. Smaller safari guides such as The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals, Wildlife of East Africa (Princeton Pocket Guides), as well as Wildlife of Southern Africa (Princeton Pocket Guides) that provide color images and in a smaller format are highly recommended. The National Audubon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife's size runs somewhere in the middle of the Princeton Pocket Guides and the Safari Companion, but is a worthy supplement for species identification even though it lacks much information on behavior and descriptions.

Overall the depth of knowledge and useful tips on finding, observing, and photographing wildlife gained from the revised edition (1999) of The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals is a critical field resource for all types of individuals intent on getting the most out of their safari experiences. Buying a used copy is highly recommended, however the Kindle version provides an easy-to-use and much more portable format for travel. There is also a more in-depth resource on African mammal behavior by the same author appropriately titled The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates, which is oriented towards students and veteran wildlife watchers with an interest in wildlife behavior.
Profile Image for Trike.
1,459 reviews152 followers
October 8, 2011
Recommended by the doctor who gave me my inoculations for my trip to South Africa, it is definitely a very well-researched book. However, it is by no means a good book to take with you, because it's huge. Lugging this sucker halfway around the world was a mistake.

I was surprised that it was limited solely to mammals. If you're going to see hippos, you will also see crocs, because they share a living space. (The dancing croc-and-hippo ballet sequence from Disney's Fantasia is probably inspired by an African boat trip.) Along with hippopotamuses and crocodiles, you'll also likely see water monitors. I really would've enjoyed reading about them on my trip, as well. It also lacks any birds. I'm by no means a birder, but the winged critters of Africa are sufficiently different, interesting and plentiful to warrant an inclusion in any such book. I saw more eagles -- and more kinds of eagles -- in my two weeks in Africa than I have in my entire life traveling around North America.

To sum up: very good book, limited to mammals, but complete within that limited scope. If you're going to Africa, this is one to read. But take a wider-ranging field guide type of book with you to get a more general background on the animals you'll see.
3,776 reviews78 followers
July 27, 2016
The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals by Richard D. Estes (Chelsea Green Publishing Company 1993) (599.096). The Great White Hunter in me grabbed this when I saw it at the local used book store. It's an actual working field guide covering the animals of the African plains from bovids to insectivores to primates written in such a style that it's quite user-friendly. That's assuming, of course, that I make it to Africa....Or to the zoo....My rating: 7.25/10, finished 7/26/16. All for $4.00 from McKay's in good shape (PB).
128 reviews10 followers
September 24, 2016
Books like Kingdom's guide or Collins Guide are helpful for identifying species and subspecies and learning about general stuff like distribution, etc. But no other books comes lose to The Safari Companion for actually understanding the behavior you are seeing when you watch animals on safari. Is that a harem of Impala led by an alpha male? Or is that a herd of bachelors? Are those zebras courting? Or they greeting each other? This book answers these questions.
January 14, 2017
The name is perfectly chosen: this book is a great safary companion. Perhaps counterintuitively, watching mammals in their natural habitat in the African savannas requieres a lot of patience, and a strong will to observe carefully. The information the book gives helps to understand what the animals are doing when they seem to be doing nothing, and teaches a lot about each species. I would say that this one is a must-carry in every Safari, especially if it is your first one.
Profile Image for Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides.
2,081 reviews77 followers
November 2, 2009
I stumbled across a copy of the first edition of this in the children's room at the local science museum and said hey, that looks pretty cool. If you are planning a trip to Africa and want to try to observe animals like a naturalist, you should give this a look. (Or if you are looking for an introduction to the behavior of African mammals that isn't designed for children.)
Profile Image for Kassandra.
22 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2007
This is the only book you'll need on mammals for any safari you do. (It would be wise to take a bird book or two). Great drawings, even though they're not in color, they are remarkably useful when identifying animals. The descriptions are accurate and informative.
356 reviews5 followers
April 1, 2008
So useful that my safari guide in Kenya said he wished he had a copy of it.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

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