On 3 March 2018 the globe celebrates World Wildlife Day when humans unite for wild animals. But to protect our wildlife, knowledge is key. These two brand new books offer valuable insight into our wild neighbours.

‘My go-to book’

Beat About the Bush: Exploring the Wild – The Comprehensive Guide. Trevor Carnaby. Jacana Media. R450.

Can giraffe swim? How are waterbirds’ feathers waterproofed? What makes stink bugs smell? How do you tell the difference between lichen and moss?

The answers to these questions, and hundreds more, can be found on the 620 pages of this wonderfully entertaining and informative guide to natural life.

Trevor Carnaby, a regular contributor to Wild magazine, has been working as a professional field guide for 20 years. He and his young family are living the lifestyle many safari addicts dream about. Trevor shares his passion for the bush, and his vast knowledge, with nature lovers of all ages.

January 2018 saw the publication of the latest in his Beat About the Bush series. The other three books are dedicated to mammals, birds, and mammals and birds (combined) respectively. With hundreds of full-colour photos, this comprehensive guide has been expanded to include not only mammals, birds and reptiles but also amphibians, invertebrates, plants, field signs and clues.

The Q&A format is user-friendly and will keep you reading (mostly out loud) for hours. It is the perfect companion for downtime at a waterhole or around the campfire.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why the sky is blue and why sunsets turn red, you’ll find the information in this must-have field guide. Beat about the Bush is my go-to book and the first one I recommend whenever I’m consulted by bush newbies who want to start building up a reference library. – Romi Boom

‘An all-in-one guide’

Stuarts’ Field Guide to National Parks & Reserves of South Africa. Chris and Mathilde Stuart. Struik Nature. R300.

If you’re new to South Africa’s national parks and reserves, this book is gold. And who better to compile an essential guide than two of the country’s most highly regarded conservationists and intrepid travellers? Looking at the more than 900 colour photographs will have you longing to explore our country’s stunning landscapes.

And if this book does not result in an incurable itch to travel, nothing will. Featuring 43 national parks, reserves and conservation areas from seven provinces, the revised and updated guide will not disappoint. Each destination is coupled with anything and everything you need to know before you go:

  • Location specs
  • A brief history
  • Geology, landscape and vegetation
  • Facilities and activities
  • Wildlife facts
  • A wealth of information about the particular landscape’s birdlife, reptiles, amphibians, fish and even invertebrates
  • Climate information for all seasons

My favourite feature? It should come as no surprise that I adore travelling. I do, however, prefer knowing exactly what to expect. If you’re anything like me, you will appreciate the alert boxes accompanying each park or reserve detailing important warnings and restrictions. If you know better, you do better, I say.

At the back of the book, you’ll find a sweet identification guide for commonly seen birds, mammals, reptiles and trees. Now, this is an all-in-one guide you simply cannot afford to give a skip. – Arnold Ras