Birds of Kruger National Park
By Christopher Keith Barnes and Ken Behren
Princeton University Press, 224 pp | Buy on Amazon

When people think of African animals, they usually think of lions, giraffes, or elephants. But Africa’s stunning biodiversity isn’t limited to mammals — there’s quite an array of birds too. Beautifully designed and easy to browse, Birds of Kruger National Park fills an important gap and will be useful not just in the park, but in many other areas with similar habitats, to everyone wanting to explore Africa’s avian wildlife.

Kruger National Park in South Africa covers an area of 19,485 square kilometers (7,523 sq mi). Kruger’s complex geology gives birth to complex ecosystems, hosting a stunning variety of wildlife. Most visitors of the park are interested in the “big five” — the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and rhinoceros. But as Keith Barnes and Ken Behrens suggest, birds also have an elite squad; a “big six,” actually, featuring the Lappet-faced Vulture, the Martial Eagle, the Saddle-billed Stork, the Kori Bustard, the Southern Ground-Hornbill, and Pel’s Fishing-Owl. These are the top attractions for birders, but of course, there’s an extremely wide array of species you can find in the park. This is where this book, serving both as a general guide and as an identification tool, comes in.

With over 250 described species. Birds of Kruger National Park will prove useful for newcomers and experienced birders alike. You get beautiful photos, physical characteristics, and a description of varying size for all of them. There’s all the basic information you could want, and a lot of extra stuff for the big six which particularly useful. In the case of the Pel’s Fishing-Owl for instance, that can be quite crucial since the species is notoriously difficult to locate.

All in all, the book checks all the boxes. It’s big enough to cover many of the park’s species and small enough to not be a drag to carry around. It blends in lovely, detailed images, and quite a bit of text. Even if you’re not into birds at all, it’s just a great book to get you started and know what you’re looking at.

It’s as good a bird book as any, and I’d recommend it to everyone visiting Kruger Park as well as other, similar, habitats across the continent.

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