Working for birds in Africa

Pocket Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of East Africa

Fri, 21/12/2012 - 12:31 -- abc_admin
Stephen Spawls, Kim M. Howell & Robert C. Drewes, 2006. London, UK: Christopher Helm. 240pp, many colour photographs and distribution maps. Softback. ISBN 0–7136–7425–3.
page 236

This is the first pocket field guide to reptiles and amphibians of the five countries of eastern Africa: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. It is a condensed version of a 500-page field guide to reptiles of the area published by the same authors in 2002. In this new book, 190 of the commoner reptiles (of the 420 or so species recorded) are described and 85 of the commoner amphibians (of over 200 known species) are added.

Following a brief introduction covering use of the book and some notes on zoogeography, observing and collecting, and conservation, not to mention safety (!), the bulk comprises the species accounts, mostly two per page. These follow a standard pattern of a colour photograph (for the main entries), a distribution map (ditto) and a text covering identification, habitat and distribution, natural history and, in the case of snakes, venom. There are shorter notes about some of the other species.

There is a diversity of both reptiles and amphibians in eastern Africa ranging from crocodiles to tiny tree frogs, and this book will certainly aid the identification and, hopefully, increase the interest in, and hence conservation of, these often rather neglected groups. Remember though that the book only covers c.50% of the species you could potentially see, so if the animal in front of you does not quite match a description, you may well be faced by a species not covered here.

Peter Lack

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