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ANTELOPE FIELD GUIDE (article first published : 2005-11-1)

A Field Guide to the Antelope of Southern Africa by Dr Nolly Zaloumis and Robert Cross has recently been published by the KwaZulu-Natal Branch of The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa.

The book was first published in 1974 by the Natal Branch of the Wildlife Society and it turned out to be an amazing success with 11 reprints and 85,000 copies sold. The guide grew from a series of lectures given by Dr Nolly Zaloumis as part of the University of Natal's adult education programme. He had worked out a unique identification key based on horns, body size and shape of an antelope to pinpoint each of the 33 indigenous species that occur south of the Zambezi and Cunene Rivers.

The lectures were so successful that former journalist Robert Cross worked with Nolly's text, extending and amplifying it. Lyndsay Maritz turned the original drawings into elegant illustrations, as well a providing more, whilst coloured slides of the antelopes were borrowed for the photographs.

The book had no budget and the Natal Publications Committee had to raise sponsorship for the first edition of 10,000 prints. Apart from the complimentary copies, the first edition was sold for the princely sum of R1 each. The book was an enormous success and sold out in one year.

Since then there have been numerous reprints but a few years ago Rob and Nolly were asked to rethink a new edition. They both worked on the text until a few days before Nolly's death in 2003. After that Rob worked alone, collaborating with top graphic designer Michael Viljoen and photographers Peter and May Craig-Cooper.

The book is A5 size, designed to slip easily into a pocket. The introductory chapter focuses on the biology of the animals, giving the Classes, Order and Family. Further information includes sections on status, habitat, breeding, migration, predation, disease and parasites. There is a chapter giving clear instructions on how to use the book and the various keys of identification. The magnificent photographs, opposite the page detailing each antelope, highlight the features that help to identify the animal.

Southern Africa is unrivalled in its wealth of mammal species but generally tourist and local interest is centred on 'the big five'. This wonderful little guide draws attention to a beautiful and interesting group of species that is often taken for granted.

The book is a fitting memorial to Dr Nolly Zaloumis.

A Field Guide to the Antelope of Southern Africa retails at R89.95 (paperback) and R139.95 (hardcover). - Sheina Wood




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