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The Gnu's World: Serengeti Wildebeest Ecology and Life History by [Estes, Richard D.]
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The Gnu's World: Serengeti Wildebeest Ecology and Life History Kindle Edition


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Review

"A masterful explanation of Richard Estes truly long-term studies of wildebeest . . . Both informative and entertaining."--James M. Vose"Ecology 96, no. 1" (01/01/2015)

"Rich in detail and conservation-related issues."--Staff"Conservation Biology" (10/01/2015)

About the Author

Richard D. Estes is a behavioral ecologist and chairman emeritus of the Antelope Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). He is a research associate of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and an associate of the Harvard Museum of Natural History. His books include the successful Behavior Guide to African Mammals (UC Press) and The Safari Companion. Estes chose the Serengeti white-bearded wildebeest as the subject of his doctoral dissertation while living in Ngorongoro Crater from 1963--1965. He continues to study antelope and associated mammals in the Ngorongoro and Serengeti ecosystems and is considered the world's authority on wildebeest behavior.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 31094 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (12 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JNMCBHG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,218,853 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very superior book 11 May 2014
By Elizabeth Marshall Thomas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is perhaps the best book ever written about an animal. The author, Richard Estes, is an important scientist in the field of wildlife studies, and has spent most of a lifetime studying the African antelopes known as gnus or wildebeests. Who would dream that these would be spellbinding? But they are--that and more. For example, would anyone imagine that a male wildebeest in mating season, wanting to attract a female who possibly isn't interested in him, would stand in front of her, then rear straight up on his hind legs to show her his erection? I'd doubt that anyone would believe this, yet some males do it, and there's a photo to prove it. But this is one tiny scene among thousands. Wildebeests famously migrate, and we can now see how and why. Their social lives are fascinating, as is their ecosystem and their relationship to it, and it's all presented with enough hard facts to fill an eighteen-wheeler in language that anyone who can read can understand. In this, Estes departs from many scientists who present their findings in science-speak, producing texts that only other scientists appreciate. But Estes wants everyone to understand. And he knows how to make that happen. I wouldn't call myself much of an intellectual--I like to watch TV and read fiction--but to me this book was far better than all that. It was a riveting adventure, a revelation about a fascinating animal, an entrance into a unique ecosystem with all its wonders, an experience not to be missed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 21 Jun. 2014
By Larry - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written, erudite, yet highly readable account translating 40+ years of research and experience with this fascinating antelope, the Wildebeest. I read this in preparation of a photographic safari in Tanzania, and apart from chapters about the different species, behaviours, and migratory journeys, it contained the most up to date information I could find on conservation in the Serengeti and surrounding reserves.
5.0 out of 5 stars All you might want to know about Gnus, but also the cloudy future of wildlife in rapidly developing Africa. 18 Jan. 2016
By lyndonbrecht - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting book. Estes graduated college in 1950 and got his PhD in the 1960s, so this is probably his last book, incorporating a half-century of field and research experience, much of it in East Africa when wildlife was far less pressured by development. He must be in his mid-80s, and insofar as the book was recently written he is vigorous and sharp in his age--although much of the book, he says, incorporates much earlier unpublished research. There is a substantial element of autobiography throughout the most, most notably in the intro, but it helps explain his points of view. This is a man who is a thorough scientist, has been committed to research and cares about wildlife and the local people.

I don't know that it is particularly helpful to review all the particulars of gnu life; the book covers about all of it, from rut to birth, from calf to old age, migrations and subspecies. A reader could simply read a chapter of interest if that interest was say, migration. There are 6 subspecies, all under some kind of threats. Some are obvious, such as Angola's long and exceedingly damaging civil war, and some are less obvious such as extensive fences for stock farming or to prevent wildlife migrations that might carry disease fatal to domestic stock. Population growth and the need for farmland is perhaps the largest, Tanzania having quintupled its population since the author first visited the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. The latter is the last gnu migration still occurring and its future may be limited due to heavy pressure to open up land and to development projects such as roads.

Among the interesting information is life expectancy, 7 years for females and 8 for males, with a maximum of about 16 for migratory animals, and a couple more for non-migratory populations. Also there is a sort of question about what the real East African wildlife was like. The popular idea is based on mid-20th century media, but the end of the last century saw huge losses to wildlife, domestic stock and people, due to rinderpest, which Estes says spread from Indian stock imported into Massawa by the Italians in 1889. This left large areas with vastly reduced grazing and wildlife populations recovered before human populations, so what is the natural balance, if there was one, is not clear. In any case World War 1 was a near-catastrophe (Tanzania was then German East Africa) , with prolonged fighting and heavy human loss in the war.

The last chapter is the best, and most depressing. It's titled "Serengeti Shall not Die? Africa's Most Iconic World Heritage Site Under Siege." Again, development and very fast population growth are important elements, together with a local view that sees little value in wildlife (lions eat people and elephants trample crops and also kill people). This is a biased but objective account, if that makes any sense. The discussion is much more than just the Serengeti. Estes outlines some of the difficulties of policy, government often arbitrary, and needs of local people, and examines the particulars of parks and preserves--some are doomed and some may make it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 17 July 2015
By M. W. Moffett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A superb and well-written book, destined to be a classic for biologists.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 2 Dec. 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing book, who is interested or obsessed with wildebeest. It gives a guideline of how Serengeti wildebeest live.
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