Followers

Friday, 18 September 2020

Book Review - Felids and Hyenas of the World - Princeton University Press

      Princeton Field Guides have an enviable reputation, much deserved, based on a long history of fine publications, all of which have proven invaluable for field observation and research alike.
     Felids and Hyenas of the World maintains this tradition of excellence.


     José R. Castelló has already carved out his niche in the realm of mammal field guides with his earlier works Bovids of the World (2016) and Canids of the World (2018). This latest volume maintains, perhaps even exceeds, the high standards that are the trademark of this renowned mammalogist.
     I am often at pains to encourage users of a field guide to read the introductory pages, all too frequently skipped over. In Castelló's guides there is so much information contained in the Introduction that you are seriously short-changing yourself if you fail to read it thoroughly. Everything from skeletal structure to feeding habits, classification, taxonomy, mating practices, distribution and conservation are covered extensively. This is akin to setting the table before you begin to eat.
     There is a section called, appropriately enough "How to use this book". I cannot imagine ignoring these directions because they enable you to fully benefit from what follows.
     A full account of all the felids by lineage ensues, comprehensively illustrated with excellent photographs. It is somewhat depressing, I must say, that in species after species, under the heading "Conservation Status", so many are designated "Endangered" or "Critically Endangered". We have modified and destroyed habitat, and persecuted these top predators in every way possible, and there is a serious threat that without active and enlightened intervention we may lose some of these magnificent animals to extinction.
     The situation with Hyenas is somewhat brighter, but of the nine species extant, only two are classed as "Least Concern". Human attitudes towards these creatures have been negative, and Hyenas have been shot, poisoned and trapped mercilessly. 
      In some areas at least, there is a faint glimmer of hope that we are starting to view all organisms as an integral and essential component of a healthy, functioning ecosytem, without pejorative anthropomorphic bias. One must fervently hope that this shift in attitude will form a new consciousness, and that animals and humans alike will benefit from a greater degree of commitment to preserve and protect nature writ large.
     The illustrations of the skulls of all the felids and the hyenas are quite fabulous. Key details are revealed about the hunting strategies of these predators and scavengers, by an examination of skull structure and dentition.
     The book ends with a comprehensive glossary and no less than ten pages of links to other references. 
     Felids and Hyenas of the World is a compendium of knowledge about some of the world's most emblematic species. What would East Africa be without lions? South America would be much the poorer without jaguars. 
     Whether you are an armchair naturalist, a member of your local zoo, or expect to encounter these animals in the wild, this is a book you should not be without.

Felids and Hyenas of the World
José R. Castelló
US $29.95 - £25.00 - ISBN: 9780691205977 -280 pages - 150 colour plates
Publication date: 20 October 2020

   

42 comments:

  1. I'm sure it's a beautiful book, David. You are doing a great work when you reviews so many wonderful new books.
    Have a nice weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds like a fascinating guide to many species, and I hope people will read and learn. So many species are endangered these days, and more people have to realise what a loss it is for the balance of nature when a species is wiped out, Thanks for sharing yet another good and concise review! Have a wonderful day, hugs to you and M, Valerie

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yet another book I would love to pore over.
    And yes, I do read introductions. And footnotes. And gain immeasurably by so doing.
    I am endlessly ashamed of the damage we have wrought (and continue to do) though.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello David,
    Another great field guide. I wish I could go on a safari, but the local zoo may be my only chance to see these animals. Thanks for sharing. Take care, enjoy your day! Wishing you a happy weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi David - I'd love to see this ... and was always amazed to see the damage the hyenas caused to things left out when we camped in Botswana and Namibia ... they are incredibly strong, bloody minded - if they wanted to see what was in your fridge ... by golly they were going to look!!

    I do love the way you encourage us all to read the introductory notes, glossaries and other informative pieces before we actually get to the book - and so agree - we'll learn from those and then find it easier to absorb the information in the guide itself.

    As you say - it seems to be a great book to refer to, as well as pore over ... all the best Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  6. Seeing the hyena immediately brought memories of our visit to the Kruger NP in South Africa many years ago. Impressive animals to see. The book sounds interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  7. David, they send you the most remarkable books! I don't think I'll be needing to know much about hyenas -- but you never know!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Otra gran reseña amigo David, con una bella explicación de todo cuanto se puede encontrar en ese libro muy bien explicada y detallada por tu gran buen hacer. Realizas siempre una gran labor mi querido amigo digna de admiración.
    Un fuerte abrazo de tu compadre Juan.

    ReplyDelete
  9. As an "armchair naturalist," this does indeed sound like a valuable book that even the non-expert can enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The hyena is aggressive and predatory. The word 'Hyena' has become an usual name in our society for an aggressive person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aggressive and predatory - are you describing hyenas or humans?

      Delete
  11. Oh, I have too many books already (and bought another one yesterday, argh!), but Henry The Lion sure approves!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It is always nice to have a good book to look at and this one seems great David.I myself is looking at Birds and their different songs.

    I wish you a very happy weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  13. The books sounds like another good read. Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
  14. David, even though I will admit that this is a book I will never read, your detailed description was appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good evening, David how are you! "armchair naturalist" that's me! jaja =D nature is very beautiful and deserves a very affectionate treatment not that we punish her with our atrocities. We still have a lot to learn to conserve and not destroy it. I love giant cats, like the jaguar!
    Wish you a happy weekend and thank you for the interesting recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Estos libros son muy inr teresantes nos enseñan cosas que ignoramos.
    Buen fin de semana. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I believe we only have them in the Zoos, well some zoos in Australia.
    Don't know a great deal about them, but that book looks as if it would fix my ignorance of such creatures.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Of all the cats, the lion is the laziest - it is based in most cases on the hunting of lionesses. :)
    The design of the cover is attractive.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi David this book would be very interesting,Thankyou for sharing,hope you have a wonderful week,cheers Sheryl

    ReplyDelete
  20. J'ai plusieurs livres sur les grands fauves, j'ai toujours adoré les lions et les guépards <3
    Bon weekend

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bon! Probablement tu n'en as pas besoin d'un autre! Mais qui sait........? Bon fin de semaine comme on dit içi au Canada.

      Delete
  21. Hello David,

    Thanks for the great review and sharing this field guide. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your day! Have a happy weekend! PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

    ReplyDelete
  22. What an interesting book! I don't think I would see any of these in the wild here to ID...but you never know! Stranger things have happened. And I LOVE ID books! Thanks for the great review! Enjoy your weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello. Thank you for introducing this interesting book.
    Take care!

    ReplyDelete
  24. The book looks very interesting and your post has also the merit of making me refresh my knowledge concerning Feliformia (and Caniformia). :)
    Enjoy your weekend. Happy reading/happy birding!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am impressed with your knowledge of higher taxonomy, Sara.

      Delete
  25. Looks like an excellent field guide!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Many thanks for the review.

    Wishing you a great weekend.

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
  27. The only place we get to see these animals is in the Zoo, a place I seldom visit, but I could watch a documentary about them any day :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not a huge fan of zoos, although I do recognize that many modern zoos, which bear no resemblance to the confined cages of the past, play a very important role in animal conservation. I find them very useful to be able to study the fauna, and to some extent the flora, of a region I am about to visit, to build up a level of familiarity and knowledge before leaving home.

      Delete
  28. Hello David, thank you for the review of this book. I hope with you and manny more people that the tide will turn for all creatures big and small. I never was in Africa or the Amazon forest to stand in wonder with these animals. Luckeley we can see all the documentries Sir David Attenborough made in his lifetime with these wonderful animals.
    Take care, regards,
    Roos

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thank you very much for you review David. It is always encouraging for authors, and this makes me keep working on illustrating our very fragile biodiversity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is my pleasure entirely, José. I am looking forward to more works from you - treasures on my bookshelves.

      Delete
  30. ...I will enjoy then on PBS from the comfort of my living room.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I love field guides and I do read the Introductions! Perfect analogy of setting the table before you eat.

    ReplyDelete
  32. That's a good point, to read the intro!
    You get all the best books!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Un libro muy interesante David. Besos.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Your great review encourages you to buy this book.
    Greetings.

    ReplyDelete