A NEW book aimed at celebrating our natural heritage and guiding sound future conservation policy has been published in Port Elizabeth. Historical Incidence of the Larger Land Mammals in the Broader Western and Northern Cape (including the Eastern Cape as far east as Sundays River) is a complete re-furbishment – with summaries, maps, illustrations and two new chapters – of the original work of the same name by legendary naturalist Dr Jack Skead, who died in 2006.
The book focuses on the period from as early as 1400 right through to 1925, revealing how the early settlers moved through these areas and how they recorded this incredible new world in their journals. It examines what the veld was like in the different areas and then, in the main section of the book, what large wild animals ranged across this landscape.
One of the new chapters tackles trends and patterns since 1925, species extinctions, reintroduction of these species and the affect generally of humanity on these large wild mammals.
The last chapter considers the introduction of non-indigenous species and the known and potential ecological consequences of this practice.
Beautifully presented and stoutly bound, the new second edition of the book was edited by Dr Andre Boschoff and Prof Graham Kerley of the Centre for African Conservation Ecology at NMMU, and Peter Lloyd, who is a mammalogist with the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board.
The team undertook the job following the great success of their first venture with Skead’s work which was a similar refurbishment of another historical mammal incidence book but which focuses exclusively on the Eastern Cape.
The new edition of the latest book is selling well and the demand is coming from a wide range of state conservation managers and planners, state and private game reserves, game farmers, research libraries and ordinary people interested in wildlife and history, Boshoff said.
“The book contains information that can inform decisions on re-introducing game, an issue private game reserves regularly grapple with.
“This information is furthermore critical for government to know in terms of the formulation of their translocation policies – which animals can suitably go where.”
Boshoff said he greatly enjoyed working on the book.
“I enjoyed it because it is important to provide information with which people can understand the past – and thereby plan for the future.
“The enjoyment was in providing this information, and making it readily accessible.”
The book is a cornerstone of the beliefs that were held by Skead (who died in 2006) and which underpin the research at the Centre for African Conservation Ecology (Ace), that we should be celebrating our indigneous natural heritage, and guarding against damaging introductions of alien species, he said.
Books can be ordered and collected directly from Ace. Money raised will be used to print additional copies.