Working for birds in Africa

Mammals of Madagascar - A Complete Guide

Fri, 12/21/2012 - 12:29 -- abc_admin
Nick Garbutt, 2007. London, UK: Christopher Helm. 304 pp, 224 colour photographs, 189 maps, 65 line drawings. Softback. ISBN 0–7136–7043–6.
page 235

Madagascar is perhaps best known for its lemurs but with over 190 terrestrial species has much more to offer the birder with an interest in mammals. Nick Garbutt's original Mammals of Madagascar, published by Pica Press in 1999, was widely acclaimed but has been out of print for some time. This new book, designed with field use in mind, updates the original. Covering Madagascar's terrestrial mammals, it opens with an overview of how to use the guide followed by a ten-page review of the biogeography and regions of Madagascar. The main section, the species' accounts, covers 224 pages and each account includes measurements, description and identification, habitat and distribution, behaviour, and details of where to look for the species in question. Many of the accounts are accompanied by stunning colour photographs and each also has a distribution map. Line drawings are used to illustrate those species for which photographs were unavailable and are also put to good effect to depict the head shapes of bats.

Garbutt recognises 192 species, including 87 species of lemur. Interestingly, Mittermeier et al. (2006) only recognise 64 species of lemur, whilst Duff & Lawson (2004) even more conservatively list just 58 species. Some of the additional species recognised by Garbutt are recent discoveries but others relate to taxonomic 'splits', some of which may yet prove to be poorly founded.

The species' accounts precede chapters on 'Conservation and Protected Areas', and 'Parks and Reserves'. A 20-page site guide covers 17 areas and presents information on 'Location and Access', 'Habitat and Terrain', 'Key Mammal Species', 'Season', 'Facilities' and 'Recommendations' on how to approach a visit to the site. The book concludes with a three-page glossary, a bibliography listing 721 references and a full index. This is a worthy successor to Garbutt's original book and is highly recommended. It is worth buying for the photographs alone.

Richard Webb
References: 
Duff, A. & Lawson, A. 2004. Mammals of the World: A Checklist. London, UK: Christopher Helm.
Mittermeier, R. A., Konstant, W. R., Hawkins, F., Louis, E. E., Langrand, O., Ratsimbazafy, J., Rasoloarison, R., Ganzhorn, J. U., Rajaobelina, S., Tattersall, I.& Meyers, D. M. 2006. Lemurs of Madagascar. Washington DC: Conservation International.

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