IN THE COUNTRY OF GAZELLES by Fritz R. Walther

IN THE COUNTRY OF GAZELLES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A leisurely, folksy account of Serengeti days spent communing with horned ungulates. During the mid-1960s and early 1970s--while teaching at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and then at Texas A&M--Walther spent a goodly amount of time in the Serengeti National Park in East Africa doing fieldwork in the then-new science of ethology (species-specific behavior in animals), studying gazelles in particular. This short volume is the fruit of those African experiences, written at a distance of 25 years. It's the kind of monograph Sherlock Holmes would approve for its wealth of fact and observation, yet it also makes comfortable fireside reading, with its reminiscences of a tourist-free savannah and its fogyish humor. Much of the book is given over to recording the daily life of gazelles: their territorial marking walks, grazings, snoozes in the sun, flirtations, copulations, clashes with neighboring bucks, more grazings and markings, another catnap--life in the slow lane. Walther unleashes a bit of hard science when he discusses mating rituals and flight distances, alpha male roles and mass migration patterns. With obvious pleasure, he cuts the mighty simba down a notch. ``I can unreservedly agree with only one of the laudatory tributes,'' he writes. ``The lion is yellow--more or less.'' Walther was a field man of the old school: He made his own maps; kept long, hard hours; fended, alone, for himself; and was not afraid of some modest anthropomorphism. (He still isn't, referring in the text to the gazelles as ``my people'' and giving them names.) The book's only lack is a glossary; it's hard to keep straight whether a dik-dik prefers sotting within sight of a mbuga...or maybe it was a kopje. Wonderfully rich and detailed, filled with vignettes, a lovely blend of science and memoir. (41 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-253-36325-X
Page count: 140pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995