This evocatively written memoir chronicles a lifelong obsession with East Africa's birds and wildlife by one of the region's preeminent ornithological authorities.
Turaco Country, Dale Zimmerman leads us on an intimate, intensely personal journey of ornithological discovery, brimming with the eager enthusiasm and obvious passion of an ardent birder and naturalist, yet interwoven throughout with the scholarly insights of a distinguished biologist — he is simultaneously student and teacher, explorer and tour guide. Along the way, we are introduced to East Africa's spectacular avifauna and unrivaled wildlife, experience the excitement of trekking for Mountain Gorillas and the adrenaline rush that comes with tent-camping in lion country, and pause frequently for butterflies, bats, reptiles and plants, much of it captured in a stunning collection of photographs.
Spanning three decades of fieldwork, beginning just as much of sub-Saharan Africa was emerging from colonial rule into independence, and before a burgeoning human population had forever altered much of the African landscape, this narrative poignantly reveals East Africa and its wildlife as it was, while providing a fascinating glimpse into a period of important ornithological discovery. This book will appeal to birders and naturalists of all stripes, and should leave even the most sedentary of armchair travelers looking to book the next flight to Africa!
— Kevin J. Zimmer
Dale Zimmerman's Turaco Country is a wonderful introduction to the wildlife that still existed in eastern equatorial Africa
in the last half of the 20th century.
Focused mainly on birds — but not to the exclusion of plants, mammals, reptiles, and butterflies — this substantial volume summarizes several decades of experiences of one of the most knowledgeable naturalists ever to study this region. Many locations, habitats, and species are vividly described, although the book provides a special emphasis on the creatures of the sizeable Kakamega Forest of western Kenya, where the author conducted years of basic descriptive ornithological research, together with his wife and son. In the author's commentary, based mainly on his journals, the reader comes to appreciate not just the incredible variety of life forms characteristic of eastern Africa, but the many challenges faced by scientists working in a turbulent political arena, with colonialism crumbling and human populations expanding at a chaotic rate
Turaco Country is not a book of false optimism about what the future holds, as it chronicles massive habitat destruction occurring in numerous locations and the disappearances of numerous species. Instead, it serves importantly as a personal celebration of the magnificent creatures of the Pleistocene that the region once hosted, in addition to being a powerful and melancholy testimony to the unwitting impacts of our own species on natural systems worldwide.
The more than 930 photographs presented in the pages of this book, mostly taken by the author, are of the very highest quality and interest. They deserve special mention, as they convey in ways that words cannot the astonishing beauty of a unique world and its inhabitants. Enhanced by its extraordinary photographs, this is a memoir that one will read and reread endlessly for its vivid images of a disappearing Africa and for the joy in nature it so beautifully expresses.
— Noel F. R. Snyder