Venture into the Kruger National Park with the new Nature Now series from Struik Nature
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Struik Nature publisher Pippa Parker shares the origins of an exciting new series of books on the Kruger National Park, perfect for nature and wildlife enthusiasts.

‘The trees seemed more magnificent than ever, and I wanted to know what I was looking at.’

During a recent visit to the Kruger, I was struck in particular by the magnificent, bountiful and assorted trees throughout the Park. For some reason they became more of a focus on this trip than did the animals and birds. Or perhaps I became aware of them while looking at birds or hoping to spot an elusive leopard snoozing high up on a branch. But the trees seemed more magnificent than ever, and I wanted to know what I was looking at. A search for an easy-to-use, simple and non-threatening guide to Kruger’s trees proved unsuccessful – so there and then the seed was sown for what has recently been launched as the Nature Now series.

Before we knew it, we had three titles planned for the series launch. Prof. Braam van Wyk was the obvious choice for ‘trees’. Braam, co-author (with the late Piet van Wyk) of Struik Nature’s best-selling Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa, was eager to take on the task and set to writing the text. He sourced many photographs of Kruger trees from Emmarentia van Wyk (Piet’s widow), holder of Piet’s invaluable collection. Braam also worked closely with Sanparks Scientific Services Department to gather valuable information on the distribution of trees according to different vegetation zones through the Park.

Trees of Kruger features 80 of the Park’s most commonly occurring or interesting trees. For each tree species there is a full-page image of the tree plus details of the relevant diagnostic features (flowers, fruit, etc). The brief text provides just enough information to assist in identifying the tree and includes useful information on the tree’s uses – for both animals and humans.

Joan Young, a now-retired tour guide who spent nearly two decades as an environmental educator and guide in Kruger, is author of the other two books in the series, Mammals of Kruger, and Insects and other Critters of Kruger. Joan is passionate about sharing extraordinary wildlife facts and has done just that in these two attractive, fact-filled books.

Mammals of Kruger introduces the breadth of the Park’s mammal diversity, from the ‘Big Five’ to the miniature mongooses, and offers insight into animals not often seen – otters, pangolins, polecats and hedgehogs. The vivid photographs make identification easy, and the text clears up many misconceptions and explains interesting bushveld behaviour. Read about the small but fierce honey badger with its exceptionally tough skin that is impenetrable to bee stings, porcupine quills and even snake fangs!

Beyond these large, hard-to-miss animals, however, is a fascinating world of smaller critters: bugs and beetles, bees, spiders, scorpions, mites and millipedes, among numerous others. These appear in full and vibrant colour in Insects and other Critters of Kruger. This beginner-friendly guide is ideal for the casual visitor keen to identify and learn about the Park’s creepy crawlies. It spans more than 200 commonly encountered species, and touches on the happenings inside a termite mound, how ladybirds defend themselves from predators, and what makes dung beetles tick. It also introduces key concepts, such as mimicry, parasitism and pollination, opening up the enchanting world of smaller inhabitants so often over-looked, yet critical to the efficient functioning of the natural world around them.

The Nature Now series will appeal to a wide market of nature and wildlife enthusiasts seeking easy-to-use, non-scientific books that offer authoritative, accurate information and vibrant photography. The books are bound to enrich and inspire your next venture into South Africa’s premier National Park.


This article was originally published in The Penguin Post, a magazine from Penguin Random House South Africa. 

Categories Non-fiction South Africa

Tags Insects and other Critters of Kruger Mammals of Kruger Nature Now New books New releases Penguin Random House SA The Penguin Post Trees of Kruger

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