Trees have such stories to tell! Some of the oldest trees in South Africa have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. If only we could tap into their memory banks to discover what they had witnessed over the centuries. The oldest trees in South Africa are referred to as Champion Trees, an example of which can be found in the grounds of the Vergelegen Estate in the Cape. The camphor tree there was planted by Governor WA van Der Stel 300 years ago. There are tall trees that have pubs built into their trunks. It is there that tall tales are told and tall glasses of alcoholic beverages are shared that make those tales even taller.
Fun fact: Did you know that there is a Big 5 list for tree species? In reverse order they are… #5, Monkey Thorn near Bela Bela, #4, Matumi on the Amorentia Estate in Limpopo, #3, Outeniqua yellowwood, Garden Route and #2, Wonderboom fig in Pretoria. And at #1 is the Sagole Baobab, near the Sagole Spa in Limpopo!
This is one of 2 books by author Megan Emmett that I will review in this posting. She has certainly authored diverse and interesting titles. Published in 2018, this book, like “Game Ranger in your Backpack” is a comprehensive guide to the flora and fauna of the African bush. She has paired with wild-life photographer extraordinaire, Shem Compion to create a book that has images that complement the text perfectly. The information is easy to comprehend and technically accurate. That being said, it is not academically written so as to scare off the laymen/women who decide to purchase a copy. My only ‘complaint’ is the Briza Callfinder has to purchased separately to hear the calls of the species covered in the publication. Given the technology available on mobile phones, an App would have been an easier option…and one less item to carry into the field. Aside from that minor issue, it is a recommended read, with or without the Briza Callfinder.
And finally, a book I consider to be one of the seminal guide books on my home library shelves seeing that I am in the Lowveld on a monthly basis. Once again Megan Emmett does what she does best and this time she uses the photographic skills of Sean Pattrick. Much like “Nature Unpacked” the duo have set out to inform, educate and entertain in a manner that is acceptable to both the amateur as well as the professional. First printed in 2010, the most recent imprint was published in 2018.
Quote: From Sean Pattrick, “Getting the shot comes about because you have missed so many in the past, you have learnt about the plants, birds, insects and animal behaviour, and your skills with the camera have been honed over time and with practice”.
On a recent trip, I got to chat with Sean Patrick who supplied most of the images for “Game Ranger in your Backpack”. Listen to the track to hear what he had to say.
To find out more about that these publishers have in their current and back catalogues, visit their website: www.briza.co.za