By DJANI Wildlife Projects on Dec 3, 2010 | In ENGLISH
Visitors to our national parks and game reserves usually want to enjoy nature and view a variety of wildlife – both plants and animals. It usually doesn’t take long before you start to notice the differences between antelope, bird, treeand grass species. To tell the species apart a good field guide becomes a necessity.
The next step beyond the identification of plants and animals is to study various aspects of their ecology, including preferred habitat, food and natural enemies. This will add a totally new dimension to your enjoyment of the bush experience since you will start to look for specific species when driving or walking through different types of habitat.
A good field guide will also tell you more about the behaviour of living creatures in the wild. This is especially applicable to animals where a species’ behaviour determines its social organisation, reproduction, territorial habits, identification of group or family members, methods used to search for food, ways of avoiding enemies and much more. Once you know an animal’s behaviour, you will experience its true essence and magic.
The purpose of a field guide is as its name indicates – a guide to the visitor in the field or bush. Consequently, a good field guide will include enough information to guide you through all three above-mentioned stages, from basic classification to revealing the ecology and finally the behaviour of species.
The more people understand nature at the level of animal behaviour, the more likely nature and its biodiversity will be able to survive the human onslaught. Knowledge of our environment and fellow species leads to respect, concern and compassion, while the reverse has also been proven true. A good field guide not only enriches any bush experience, but also is one of the most valuable educational tools in conservation.
Dr. Madelein J Grundlingh is a zoologist and conservation education specialist, former lecturer, biology teacher, and not only scriptwriter of wildlife television programmes, but also a passionate wildlife photographer and the founder of DJANI Wildlife Projects, a wildlife conservation initiative specialising in conservation education and the development of wildlife educational resource material.