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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE MAGIC OF KZN (article first published : 2002-06-7)

KwaZulu–Natal: A Celebration of Biodiversity hit the bookstores like a breath of fresh air earlier this year. More than a tourist handbook or a travel guide, it is meticulously researched and neatly laid out - a must for both resident and tourist. The pages tumble with attractive design and gentle touches of visual humour.

Strongly supported by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, it combines the energy and commitment of an impressive list of artists such as Lisl Barry, Sally MacLarty, Penny Noall, Joan van Gogh and Ingrid Weiersbye. Among the photographers are well-known names like Roger de la Harpe, Nigel Dennis, Bart Fokkens, Denis King, Rhonda Klevansky, Walter Knirr, Stephen Pryke and Barry Tuck.

The book is fascinating and positively glows with respect and love of the environment as well as the fun the creators must have had in producing the publication.

Its 208 pages explode with all that KZN has to offer from sunrise to sunset. It covers wildlife activities and natural riches backed up by well-laid out maps and statistics. Chapters, each introduced by a stunning photograph, deal with Plants and Invertebrates; Land Mammals; Reptiles and Amphibians; Sealife and Freshwater Fish and Bird Life.

You can open the book at any page and find a wealth of information laid out for easy reading. and the pages are elegantly bordered by slim beadwork, porcupine quills, feathers, seeds and shells.

Small boxes of information are inserted to add an extra dimension – for instance, the Estuarine and Freshwater Fish chapter suggests to fisherman that, once they have made their catch, they only kill the fish they intend to eat otherwise they should release the fish alive. There’s also a hint to try flyfishing for the KZN Yellowfish. The Shore and Ocean chapter reminds people to walk below the high-tide mark to avoid damaging nests as well as the best way to see ocean-going birds. Those visiting Maputaland are urged not to create new paths across dunes which represent fragile ecosystems and are sensitive to trampling.

Every subject is given its Latin name, size and weight and, where possible, the nature of the subject forms part of the design. A particular example is the Tailless Whip Scorpion which “holds” its own description in its spindly grasp while lower down, the Giant Earthworm steadfastly crawls up the side of its page forming a border.

A concise section at the back of the book deals with Human History, Human Impact and KZN Wildlife History.

KwaZulu–Natal: A Celebration of Biodiversity is published by Jacana and retails at R145 – Caroline Smart




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