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Belize and Northern Guatemala: Ecotraveller's Wildlife Guide Paperback – 17 Nov 1998
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As ecotourism booms, it is only natural that eco-themed guidebooks should boom alongside it. The Ecotravellers' Wildlife Guides, endorsed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and researched by professional biologists, are among the more credible brands in the swelling ecotravel ranks. The series provides an encyclopaedic introduction to Central America's flora and fauna, as well as a friendly primer on the principles of ecotourism. These rich ecological contexts are accompanied by hundreds of pictures and photographs.
The guides deliver solid science without being stilted or boring--sections have titles like "Avian Mating Systems and Birds That Cheat" and "Frugivory: Animals That Eat Fruit and the Trees That Want Them To". The one element that is in surprisingly short supply is ecologically sound travel tips, from general dos and don'ts to a list of ecologically responsible tour operators and other eco-friendly establishments in Belize. This is mildly discouraging, since learning howto travel responsibly is as important as knowing what you are going to see. But given the relative paucity of travel literature on Belize, Belize and Northern Guatemala: The Ecotravellers' Wildlife Guide proves a valuable resource for anyone curious about the natural wonders of this increasingly popular destination. --Andrew Nieland
From the Author
My comments describe this new series of travel books.
Even though I'm a professional wildlife biologist, I've always found it difficult while travelling to identify animals I'm not familiar with and to get good, on-site information about them, unless I'm with an expert guide or willing to lug around several heavy books (a bird book, a mammal book, etc.). I've produced the Ecotravellers' Wildlife Guides to help solve this problem. The books in the series are aimed at travellers with an interest in animals, at people for whom some of the best moments of any trip to places like Belize or Guatemala are unexpected encounters with birds and mammals, reptiles and amphibians, fish and other marine organisms. You will find in these books information on (1) common animals likely to be seen, (2) those that are commonly pointed out by tour-guides and tourist literature, (3) some threatened ones that are, for example, subjects of conservation attention, and (4) some that are of special ecological significance. The books, endorsed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, are real field guides, with extensive color artwork produced by some of the world's top wildlife artists. To give you an idea of the "depth" of coverage, the Belize/Guatemala book includes detailed information and color illustrations on 104 plates of about 210 bird species, 50 mammals, 80 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 150 coral reef fish and other marine organisms - the book truly covers most of the animals you might encounter in these countries. Additionally, initial chapters in each book introduce the country or region, its habitats and climate, its common trees and other plants, and describe conservation projects and ecotourism there, as well as major eco-attractions (national parks, nature reserves, etc.). My hopes are that these books will be put to good use in the field by ecotravellers, will make trips more enjoyable, and will assist in conservation in a small way by helping to educate people about the wildlife and habitats in the countries through which they travel.
Top Customer Reviews
Once you get to the illustrations, those on one page are not to the same scale. The accompanying text is also jumbled up with, typically for a page of four illustrations, the image on the top right having its description on the bottom left of the facing page.
The illustrations are also fairly poor and, at times, seem as if they were drawn from skins rather than life.
I returned this book.
The advised companion volume "Helm Field Guide: Birds of Belize" is even worse with the plates occupying only a quarter of the book. Its illustration of an osprey looks nothing like the real bird. The weight/information ratio of this book is too high for it to be a useful field guide and so it will also be returned.
One positive aspect was Amazon's returns practice of Collect+ which enabled me to drop the book into the newsagency right next to my place of work.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
I did take the book along, too, on my trip to Belize and found that it included almost all the birds and animals I saw. The illustrations are excellent. And I loved consulting it at the end of the day to learn more about the marvelous creatures I'd seen. I wholeheartedly recommend this book as preparation for identifying birds & others and for going beyond ID to an understanding of how the animals fit in their habitat.
The cons: It's a heavy book. About half of the book is text - an ecological background. I didn't read it and I'm sure there is interesting info in it but not what I want in a field guide. Either remove this portion of text and have the book lighter/smaller or replace it with more plates. The plates itself aren't the easiest to follow. The organization could be better. It would also have been good to have more clues on distinguishing features of the animals, especially when you are dealing with similar looking birds. A good bird guide will give you seasonal information. Also, there is no indication of size on any of the animals, which would be extremely useful.
That said, the pictures are good and for the most part, I was easily able to identify the wildlife I saw with a few flips through the book.
Overall, this book is a good purchase for the amateur wildlife enthusiast and it will enhance your experience while travelling through Belize.
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