Working for birds in Africa

Primates of West Africa, A Field Guide and Natural History

Fri, 12/21/2012 - 10:22 -- abc_admin
John F. Oates, 2011. Arlington, VA: Conservation International. 556 pp, 141 colour photographs, 79 colour illustrations and 55 colour distribution maps. Softback. ISBN 978-1-934151-48-8.
page 114

Although entitled a field guide, this book is much more than that, providing a complete overview of the natural history of all primates that are found west of the Sanaga River in Cameroon. Introductory chapters cover a range of subjects including, of particular interest to me, classification and evolutionary history, and a review of primate conservation and field research projects in the region. The meat of the book is, however, the species accounts. These cover 42 species and a number of subspecies across a range of groups including angwantibo, pottos, galagos, mangabeys, drills, baboons, guenons, colobus and apes. Each account provides a comprehensive overview of the species in question including 'Identification', 'Taxonomic Notes', 'Geographic Range', 'Natural History' (their vocalisations, activity patterns and diets and feeding), 'Conservation Status' and 'Where To See It'. The accounts are supplemented by excellent range maps (for each species and subspecies), colour plates and photographs.

Completing the work is an appendix covering 22 key sites (in 14 countries) for primate watching and conservation. Nigeria emerges as the 'top' country with no fewer than six sites being listed.

This is a great book and a must for those birders with more than a passing interest in primates. However, people only interested in identifying those species encountered while birding would probably be advised to wait for the forthcoming field guide by Mark Andrews.

Richard Webb

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