The Gnu's World is the first scholarly book on the antelope that dominate the savanna ecosystems of eastern and southern Africa. It presents a synthesis of research conducted over a span of fifty years, mainly on the wildebeests in the Ngorongoro and Serengeti ecosystems, where eighty percent of the world's total wildebeest population lives. Wildebeest and other grazing mammals drive the ecology and evolution of the savanna ecosystem. Estes describes this process as well as detailing the wildebeest's life history, focusing on its social organization and unique reproductive system, which are adapted to the animal's epic annual migrations. He also examines conservation issues that affect wildebeest, including range-wide population declines.
Introduction: The Author’s Fifty-Year History of Wildebeest Research
1. Africa: The Real Home Where Antelopes Roam
2. African Savannas: Understanding the Tropical Climate, Vegetation, and the Gnu’s Ecological Niche
3. Introducing the Wildebeest’s Tribe: Similarities and Differences among the Four Genera and Seven Species
4. The Four Wildebeest Subspecies and the Status of Migratory Populations
5. Increase and Protection of the Serengeti Wildebeest Population
6. Serengeti Grasslands and the Wildebeest Migration
7. Social Organization: Comparison of Migratory and Resident Populations
8. Male and Female Life Histories
9. Cooperation and Competition among Twenty-Seven Ungulates That Coexist with the Wildebeest
10. The Amazing Migration and Rut of the Serengeti Wildebeest
11. The Calving Season: Birth and Survival on Calving Grounds and in Small Herds
12. Serengeti Shall Not Die? Africa’s Most Iconic World Heritage Site under Siege
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 our successful Behavior Guide to African Mammals 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.
"A masterful explanation of Richard Estes truly long-term studies of wildebeest [...] Both informative and entertaining."
– James M. Vose, Ecology 96, no. 1