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|Author:||Reav H.N Smithers|
|Publishers:||University of Pretoria|
|Condition:||Mint Condition Dust Jacket|
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This is a partly revised, expanded, and updated edition of the original book by Smithers (1983).
The text is comprehensive, containing detailed information on taxonomy, descriptions, measurements, distribution, habitat, habits, food, and reproduction of the 338 mammals that occur in southern Africa. The 1990 edition exceeds the 1983 edition by 45 pages in text length, and the original 30 colour plates have been replaced with 38 new plates by artist Dick Findlay. For most of the species the text has been expanded by the addition of new information and references, and in the instances of a number of other mammals (e.g. the rhinos), the text has been extensively revised. In total over 1100 new references have been incorporated. Taxonomy, with the exception of a few taxa, follows the most recent classification by Meester, Rautenbach, Dippenaar & Baker (1986).
A useful minor improvement is that measurements include head and body length, whereas in the 1983 edition total length and tail length were given. Art appreciation is, of course, very much in the eye of the beholder. In my opinion the colour illustrations of the small mammals are very good, and those of the other mammals are generally good. Something which is mildly frustrating is that illustrations are not indexed.
The colour plate number is given after the common name of an illustrated species in the text, but there is no page number. A single index, including scientific and common names, would have been preferable to the three separate indices. Sections of many of the species accounts are long, rather wordy, and sometimes include anecdotal information. Future editions would benefit from the revision of such sections, adopting more concise expression. The overall length of the book would be reduced, and the extraction of factual information would be easier for the reader.
The preparation of this and future editions of The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion is an ongoing project of the Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria. South African mammalogists are fortunate in having an organization such as The Mammal Research Institute which will ensure that a top quality, comprehensive mammal handbook is always available. D.T. ROWE-ROWE Natal Parks Board, p.o. Box 662, Pieterrruuitzburg. 3200