Safari Patrol.
About us & contact
Search Safari Patrol:
Advanced search  Help
Wildlife and nature books.
Safari glossary
Opens in a new window.
Wildlife and nature books
There are many good books in English on the East African wildlife and nature. Some of these are field guides, mainly meant to help you identify the animals or plants you see while on safari, while others provide general reading or background information, for example for preparing for a tour.
For field use, Safari Patrol recommends:
· On mammals: The Kingdon pocket guide to African mammals
· On birds: Field guide to the birds of East Africa
· On reptiles: Pocket guide to the reptiles and amphibians of East Africa

The above mammal and reptile books are short versions of more extensive books, which may be too heavy to bring for a safari.


The Kingdon pocket guide to
African mammals

(Jonathan Kingdon, 2004)

This is a short version (270 pages) of The Kingdon field guide to African mammals (see below). Both books cover the same species, but the full version contains more text and information.

The Kingdon pocket guide to African mammals has a handy format, a lower price and a layout that makes it better for field work and identification than the book below. We recommend it to safari-goers who want a good book for mammal identification. It covers some 1,150 African mammal species (excluding mammals on Madagascar), including distribution maps and good illustrations by Jonathan Kingdon.

In English. ISBN 0-7136-6981-0

The Kingdon pocket guide to African mammals

The Kingdon field guide to African mammals
(Jonathan Kingdon, 1997)

This 465-page book is regarded as the best modern work on African mammals (excluding mammals on Madagascar). It covers 1,150 species, of these 460 species or groups of species in detail. There are distribution maps, and good illustrations for identification and comparison.

Compared to the pocket guide above, this book is larger and heavier, includes more facts and is not as easy to find your way in. It's best suited for safari-goers who have a deep interest in mammals and who want to know as much as possible.

In English. ISBN 0-12-408355-2

The Kingdon field guide to African mammals

Field guide to the birds of East Africa
(Stevenson, Fanshawe, 2001)

A 600-page field guide covering almost 1,400 species in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. Mainly good illustrations and easy to use.

For truly serious birding, you may want to bring both this book and Birds of Kenya & northern Tanzania. For other birding we recommend this one, which is newer, is easier to use and covers a larger geographic area.

In English. ISBN 0-856-61079-8

Field guide to the birds of East Africa

Birds of Kenya & northern Tanzania
(Zimmerman, Turner, Pearson, Willis & Pratt, 1996/1999)

A field guide that covers more than 1,100 species of Kenyan and Tanzanian birds. The original hardback edition is 740 pages (25x18 cm/9.7x7.1 in), the newer softback edition is 580 pages (21x13 cm/8.3x5.1 in) covering the same species. The illustrations show birds perched, many species (mainly birds of prey) also in flight. The distribution maps are placed separately, not together with the bird illustrations, which isn't very practical for field use. The book is big and heavy, but has a thick paper well suited for use in field.

In English. ISBN 1-875091-11-4

Birds of Kenya & northern Tanzania
Photographic guide to birds of prey
of Southern, Central and East Africa
(David Allan, New Holland)

A nice field guide on African birds of prey. It covers most species, all illustrated as adults and juveniles, and in flight. All main illustrations are photographies, making the book a good complement to the two bird books above, which are sometimes not enough for 100 % identification of birds of prey.

In English. ISBN 1-85-368903-3

Photographic guide to birds of prey of southern, central and east Africa
Collins Field Guide: Birds of East Africa
(HarperCollins, 1995)

A field guide covering a large number of East African birds. The main contents are illustrations for identification and distribution maps.

Birds of Kenya & northern Tanzania and Field guide to the birds of East Africa (both above) are more modern and better books.

In English. ISBN 0-00-219937-8

Beautiful birds of Kenya
(John Karmali, Text Book Centre, 1993)

A book of 130 pages covering approximately 100 common Kenyan bird species. The space is shared between photographies and text describing the birds and their environments. As pointed out in the preface, it's not a book for identification, but rather for learning more about Kenyan birds.

In English. ISBN 1 874041 31 8

Beautiful Birds of Kenya.
Birds of Kenya
(Dave Richards)

A pretty and fairly light bird book, covering the most common birds and the most accessible birding sites in Kenya. Large and nice pictures, accompanied by introductory text.

In English. ISBN 0-241-12867-6

Reptiles & amphibians

A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa
(Spawls, Howell, Drewes & Ashe, Academic Press, 2001)

A major work covering all reptiles in East Africa in 750 pages, including many photographies for identification. Apart from a lot of text describing the species, distribution maps etc, there is also good information about the different groups of reptiles (lizards, snakes, crocodiles etc), and extensive information on snake bites and first aid.

This book is really too heavy for most safari-goers, especially as you don't see that many different species of reptiles during a normal safari. But if you are into reptiles: buy this book. Otherwise, you may have a look at the pocket guide below, which is a short version of this book, also including the most common amphibians.

In English. ISBN 0-7136-6817-2

A field guide to the Reptiles of East Africa.

Pocket guide to the reptiles and amphibians of East Africa
(Spawls, Howell & Drewes, A&C Black Publishers, 2006)

A compact version of A field guide to the Reptiles of East Africa above, plus amphibians. This book has a much better size for field use, which is also its intended purpose. It covers the 200 most common reptiles and the 80 most common amphibians in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. They are illustrated in 350 colour photographies.

In English. ISBN 0-7136-7425-3

Pocket guide to the Reptiles of East Africa.
Nature in general

A field guide to the tracks & signs
of Southern and East African wildlife

(Chris & Tilde Stuart, 1994)

A book on identifying different types and species of African animals from tracks and signs left by them, such as droppings, footprints, eggs, nests, holes, feathers and bones. You can even see on a carcass which kind of animal killed it, and if jackals and vultures have been there to feed on the remains.

In English. ISBN 1-86812-764-8

A field guide to the tracks & signs of Southern and East African Wildlife.

Collins guide to African wildlife
(HarperCollins, 1996)

A 1,000-page identification book covering mammals, birds and some reptiles. Despite its many pages, the format is fine for use in field. About 850 species are covered, 500 of these illustrated by photographies. 60 % of the species are birds, the rest mammals and reptiles. The book covers all of Africa, including Madagascar and its unique wildlife, which includes for example lemurs.

A number of African wildlife and bird habitats are described, and some 100 pages are used to present the nature and environment in each African country.

This is a good all-round book, suitable for safari-goers who want to bring a book that covers most of what may be seen during the safari. Keen birders probably want a more complete coverage of the species that may be seen, though.

In English. ISBN 0 00 220066 X

East African wildlife
(Insight Guide, 1997)

This isn't really a wildlife book, but rather a general book on nature in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia. There are descriptions of the flora and fauna, and of a number of the parks found in this part of Africa.

The most common animals are covered, but the book isn't very well suited for identification, as too few species are covered and illustrated. But it's nice reading and good pictures, so you may enjoy the book to warm up before travelling to East Africa. 300 pages.

In English. ISBN 9-62-421276-7


Field guide to common trees & shrubs
of East Africa

(Najma Dharani, Struik Publishers, 2002)

A field guide covering some 330 trees and shrubs found in East Africa, both indigenous and exotic. There are 320 pages, well illustrated by colour photographies. Each species is depicted and described. There is also information on local use, for example in traditional medicine.

In English. ISBN 1-86872-640-1

Field guide to common Trees & Shrubs of East Africa.

Field guide to acacias of East Africa
(Najma Dharani, Struik Publishers, 2006)

This book covers the approximately 60 different acacias that are found in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The book is richly illustrated with photographies, distribution maps, and calendars showing for flowering etc.

In English. ISBN 1-77007174-1

Field guide to Acacias of East Africa.
© Copyright 1998–2010 Safari Patrol AB
Page updated 18 February 2009