The latest Bradt guide, Australia Wildlife, shows why more Americans should consider this British publisher of eccentric and eco-friendly guides to big and obscure places around the planet. Author Stella Martin tells you right away it isn’t a field guide. It’s more a primer on where and how to see the animals.
She takes care to highlight the devastating impact of the “European invasion” has had, like feral cats eating 800,000 tons of birds and critters a year. But the book does give a run through of all the obscure mammals, birds and reptiles you might try to see, which is way more than you might imagine. Since so many tourists associate Australia with dangerous sharks, Martin points out that twice as many Australians are killed by bees. The animals section is followed by regions, which picks out the best parks and natural wonders.
Bradt Australian Wildlife is a great book if you are vaguely mulling a trip to Australia or if you are already there and want to understand its animals a bit more. As a map lover, I do wish there were more specific maps, like Lonely Planet’s 200o book Watching Wildlife Australia, which gives a range map and hot spots for each species.
Let’s look up platypus in each book:
Lonely Planet gives a range map, highlighting the entire east coast and Tasmania and gives the hotspots of three national parks, one near the Great Barrier Reef, one in Tasmania and one near Mackay, in other words, all far from places you might be unless you’re making a special trip.
The Bradt guide gives what I think would be far more useful information to a first time visitor than the other guide books. Martin explains that platypus are “surprisingly common” and that you should just seek out a calm stream at dusk or dawn, ask locals and wait patiently. So, in other words, it’s pretty close to what Americans experience in trying to see a beaver. And I don’t have to plan a special trip to Tasmania or the Great Barrier Reef. And thanks to the Bradt Guide, I’d know that before I planned a trip to Tasmania just to see one (not that I would mind a trip to Tasmania).
Check out: Bradt Australia Wildlife
Where to Go to See Wildlife in Australia (the AnimalTourism.com guide)