First let me say that in general I find this book excellent, and highly recommend it to anyone interested in the mammalian fauna of Africa. It is very comprehensive, covering every single species of African mammals with the exception of bats, rodents, insectivores, elephant-shrews and hyrraxes, which are usually represented by one species for each genus. But every single genus is represented, and of rodents, every species of squirrel is dealt with separately. The information accompanying each species is very detailed and appears up to date.
Now for the shortcomings: 1) The illustrations are next to the description of each species. Given how detailed/long the texts are, this means that usually there are just 1 or 2 species shown on each page, so to compare all antelopes you must look through a hundred pages or so - not very practical in a field guide! 2) Maps are often pages away from the text and illustration, with no reference to their whereabouts. I often thought there was no map for a species/genus, only to find it pages away, combined with the map for another taxon. 3) While illustrations are identified by the species' English name, the maps are confusingly id'ed by Latin names only. If you aren't familiar with the latter, it takes some cross-reference to find out which species' range you are looking at. 4) The illustrations vary so much in standard that it is hard to believe they were drawn by one person... While most are quite good, even excellent and life-like, others are quite awful, either showing animals with stiff, straight limbs/bodies as if drawn with a ruler (like the Crowned Monkey) or in highly unnatural positions (like the Potto with the limbs twisted out, or the Cheetah standing up like a circus horse).
Note that a cheaper, condensed version of this guide, without the first 3 shortcomings listed above and more practical for field use is now available under the title "The Kingdon Pocket Guide to African Mammals" (ISBN: 0691122393). It is probably the book you would want to take to Africa while keeping this one at home for reference.
This is a dream book for those interested in African mammals. First of all, it does not concentrate on "popular" species, such are lions and cheetahs, but talks about all species and important sub-species. The layout of the book is like this: first the author talks about a certain class of mammals, ex. Carnivores, and talks about the things characteristic to that class; then he goes down to family, e.g. canids, and talks about aspects characteristic to that family, and finally, the species themselves, and talks about their individual characteristics, distribution, size, and status. And it goes like that until every species, family and class of African mammal is mentioned. There are no pictures in the book, but color illustrations of all the species mentioned. The illustations are high-class, so much you can easily imagine what the animal looks like in real life. And now, a few bad points. As a bonus, he adds the names of animals in French, German, and a few African languages. Unfortunately, this is inconsistent throughout the book. I understand for the African languages, but French and German translations should have been given for each species. Also, he doesn't mention the mammals of Madagascar, even though Madagascar is part of Africa. And another thing, which would have been nice: with eponymized species (e.g. Ruppell's fox, Wolf's monkey) he should have mentioned who those species were named for. Nevertheless, I still give this book the highest score, for being complete, at least for continental Africa.
Covering 460 mammal species in a single compact volume is no easy task. Neither is providing detailed, quality colour pictures of each animal, along with details of identification, ecology, distribution, evolutionary relationships and conservation status. In this excellent field guide, Kingdon achieves all this and more. As a visitor to Africa, I found this guide irreplaceable when identifying the mammals that I encountered, especially small species such a bush squirrels, mongooses etc. Such animals are often overlooked by similar texts. The only criticism I can find with this book is I often found the distribution maps to be too small to accurately identify the area I was visiting. In addition, several complex groups of small mammals, e.g. bats and shrews, are referred to by genus only. It must be realised, however, that field guides have to be compact if they are to be practical. Rectifying the above criticisms would result in a text much too large to be any use in the African bush. In summary I would recommend Kingdon's field guide to any wildlife enthusiast visiting Africa, or with an interest in this beautiful and fascinating continent. The author's illustrations alone make this text a worthy addition to any naturalists' bookcase.
Currently the best field guide to take on safari. I found most of the illustrations excellent, although some of the descriptions were rather light. Conversely, there is much information that does not really belong in a field guide - e.g. discussion of the evolutionary relationships of the various species.
Another gap not mentioned by other reviewers is that there are no aquatic mammals, including manatees as well as dolphins.
The book was delivered very promptly and packaged well. Excellent book giving a very detailed analysis of all species and sub species. I found this book very useful as a reference guide, but a bit heavy to take into the field.