Book Review: Beat About The Bush

Exploring The Wild

Trevor Carnaby


Review: Brian Joss

Everything you ever wanted to know about the wilderness, even what you didn’t think you wanted to know, you’ll find in this comprehensive guide by Carnaby who started as a professional field guide in the 1990s and now owns a safari company leading tours throughout East and Southern Africa and into South East Asia.

The 640 page fully illustrated volume is divided into eight chapters: Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Invertebrates, Plants, Field Signs and Clues, and The Environment, each with its own sub-chapter, starting with, for example, general questions about mammals and specific mammal questions. The mammals category includes Predators; Elephant; Rhino; Zebra; Pangolin and Aardvark, to name some. Birds focuses on Raptors; Common Birds and Water Birds. You’ll find information about crocodiles, lizards and snakes in the chapter on Reptiles. The section on Invertebrates include all manner of “creepy-crawlies”, scorpions, spiders, ticks and centipedes. Amphibians is devoted to Frogs and Toads; Plants examines Trees and Bushes; Plants Growing On Other Plants; Grasses and Wild Flowers. Field Signs and Clues looks at tracks; nests; dung and feeding signs while the chapter on The Environment focuses on climate, geology, astronomy, animal diseases and management practices.

Along the way Carnaby gives answers to intriguing questions: Why do so many animals sniff urine? Why do animals have markings on their bottoms?  Why Do Cats Scratch Trees?, Why Do Bushbabies Eyes Glow Red at Night?, and many more.

Specific questions about birds are: How Long Can They Stay Underwater While Diving? And What Do Flamingos Feed On?

If you think the song, “I Talk To The Trees”  by Chet Baker was the writer’s fanciful imagination, you would be wrong. Trees can really communicate and you can find out how in Beat About The Bush. You can also learn the answer to that age-old question: Why Is The Sky So Blue? And just to whet your appetite a bit more: the longest snake in the country is the southern African python that can reach lengths of more than five metres.

Beat About The Bush is a fascinating journey into the wilderness. It deserves a place in every library and home. You’ll find yourself dipping into it time and again. It is written in easy-to-understand English and it will keep you entertained for hours.

There is a comprehensive index, glossary and a list of reference books for further reading.

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