11 February 2013

Book Review: BBC Africa

This glossy coffee table book, full of wonderful photography and stories of the wildlife that we have enjoyed watching on our TV screens for the past 6 weeks.

The book asks us to think again if we know Africa. And true enough, there is much to be understood and re-learned as scientists, along with conservationists and the local people, find out ever more about the wildlife throughout Africa.

The book is chaptered off to match the episodes of the television series: Kalahari, Savannah, Congo, Cape, Sahara, and The Future. There are two additional chapters, the first being chapter 8 which is a compilation of Behind the scenes stories and the final chapter is entitled Discover Africa. This chapter advises us on the places to go to watch the wildlife in Africa.

The photography, as you would expect with a BBC Wildlife book, is sublime. A particular favourite is that of the face of a rhino with a near-full moon in the background. Along with the stories of the TV series, there are additional stories within the book, along with a lot of additional information which really enrich what we heard and saw in the series. However, some of these additional stories are a gift and a curse, as they often talk about species you may not have heard of or seen, but do not provide photos. Therefore, we have to go off and do some research of our own to get the full story - but if you have the time this is again worthwhile. The subtitle of the book is 'Eye to eye with the unknown', in the book this is presented as double page spreads of spectacular behaviours of wildlife. A great example is that of the banana frogs depositing fertilised eggs on a leaf to await a heavy downpour to develop.

The book is apparently one of the first to introduce the technology whereby you download an app. With this app you take captures of certain photos in the book which then presents a short video clip of the wildlife in question. I felt that this was a massively missed opportunity as we were only presented with very short bits of footage we'd seen during the series with additional background music. However, it is fantastic that the BBC and their partners do keep up with technology and hopefully in future books this will be developed further.

All in all, a fantastic book. I really enjoyed reading it and would encourage you to loan it from your local library or to purchase it for your collection.

Own or Loan:          Loan
Read Again:            No
Recommend:          Yes
Overall out of Five: 3

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