448 pages, colour photos, colour illustrations, colour maps
This new Poyser title covers the natural history of a remarkably diverse and beautiful country, with its many and varied inhabitants. It provides something previously unobtainable – a broad and yet detailed overview of all aspects of Kenya's natural history and environment, illustrated by informative colour photographs. It is a rich resource for all wildlife professionals, educators, visitors and students – anyone with an interest in Kenya.
Accurate and accessible discussion is delivered in thirteen chapters covering geology, hominids and fossils, peopling, landscape, climate and weather, plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, the marine world and conservation. It is the first book to span the gap between general guidebook and detailed scientific material; it gives the `big picture' where Kenya's natural history is concerned and will be an indispensable companion to those whose work or pleasure involves them with the Kenyan outdoors.
The two authors are experienced professionals with over 90 years of African experience between them – one a published expert herpetologist and naturalist, the other a qualified safari guide. Kenya: A Natural History is essential background reading for those with a desire to understand Kenya. Each chapter contains a summary, background information, research and statistics, compares the historical with the present situation, and reviews relevant literature. If you want to find out how many bird species are known from Kenya, where its rare plants are, what has happened to its elephants during the last 100 years, or why the country is the cradle of humanity – this is the book for you. No Kenyaphile should be without it!
"[...] All in all, Spawls and Mathews provide a strong sense of authors deeply in tune with Kenya's natural history, and clearly draw on their long friendship, and their well-honed teaching and safari-guiding skills. Throughout they sustain a strong, often amusing, narrative voice. It is easy to imagine copies strewn throughout the lodges, camps, colleges and schools of Kenya, and wider East Africa, bringing insight, and setting off a storm of independent enquiries. [...] It is a lifetime's work, and surely Kenya: A Natural History could (and should) inspire a new generation of dedicated naturalists."
- John Fanshawe, Bulletin of the African Bird Club 20(2), September 2013
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Born in London, Stephen Spawls came to Kenya when he was four; he lived there for 17 years in Meru and Nairobi. He took a degree in geology and trained as a physics teacher. He has worked in Ghana, Egypt, Botswana and Ethiopia, spending nearly 40 years in Africa. Herpetology is his major interest; he caught his first chameleon at the age of six and lost a finger to a puff adder when he was 17. His publications include A Field guide to the Reptiles of East Africa, Arnphihians and Reptiles of Ethiopia and Eritrea, The Dangerous Snakes of Africa and Sun, Sand and Snakes. He lectures in science and mathematics at City College, Norwich.
Glenn Mathews was born in Nairobi and schooled entirely in Kenya. After school Glenn worked briefly at the Serengeti Research Institute as a Field Assistant. He then joined his father, Terry, in the family safari business. Glenn is now a qualified safari guide and still conducts occasional photographic safaris. He owns and runs a four·wheel-drive business in Kenya and lives on the southern boundary of Nairobi National Park, with his wife Karen and two children.
The authors met as volunteer helpers at Nairobi Snake Park in 1966. They then found themselves in the same class at St Mary's School, Nairobi, and have been friends ever since.