The Fireside Chat – August 2019


 “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” – Albert Einstein 

With the hunting season firmly behind us, and the post-season chores all taken care of it’s time for a bit of leisure reading. A dedicated outdoorsman, with an understanding of his natural environment will inevitably be a better conservationist. Practical observations coupled with reading on the related matters helps to understand the subtle nuances that are found in the African bush.

A good working library should have substance and breadth covering all the aspects that one would come across while traipsing through the veld. We are extremely lucky in South Africa to be graced by authors/naturalists who are authorities in their field.

On matters botanical, Braam and Piet van Wyks’ “Field guide to the trees of Southern Africa” and van Oudthoorn’s “Guide to grasses of Southern Africa” are worthwhile reads. Birds, their locations and identification are well catered for with the “trinity”; “Roberts”, “Newman’s”,  as well as the “Sasol birds of South Africa” all having a massive amount of pundits.

Reptiles, especially snakes are well-represented by the writings of Johan Marais and Graham Alexander. African mammals have been researched at depth, with “Stuarts’ field guide to the mammals of Southern Africa” considered the best recent treatise. The magnum opus on mammals is undoubtedly the massive “The mammals of the Southern African Sub-region” by J.D Skinner and R.H.N Smithers.

Efficient identification of animal spoor and tracks which make a hunter more efficient have a few titles to choose from. Clive Walker’s “Signs of the wild” and the more recent “A photographic guide to tracks and tracking in Southern Africa” both being worthwhile additions to one’s library. The less conspicuous insects, albeit small in size are an important part of any habitat. Picker, Griffiths and Weaving have made them accessible with their “Field guide to insects of South Africa”.
Within a short space time you’ll be able to glean some fascinating facts about the wonderful world that you hunt in.

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