Book Reviews

Dangerous Snakes Of Africa



Stephen Sprawls and Bill Branch

Published By Bloomsbury

Dangerous Snakes Of Africa

Dangerous snakes of Africa book is far more than a simple field guide, with descriptions, identification photographs and maps it provides comprehensive details of all 136 species of dangerous snake found in Africa with clear and concise notes on identifying each snake. In addition, the book also includes images and descriptions of the innocuous species that are often confused with the dangerous species. Unlike many field guides, there is a wide variety of photographs that are aimed at aiding correct identification particularly for medical personal and as such are not all aesthetically pleasing as in most field guides. In addition is dispels some common myths on differentiating between a venomous and non-venomous snake, for example pupil shape, head shape and scales.

The book starts by explaining about the dangerous snakes found in Africa and their locations along with touching on their conservation, it then goes into the species with information on identification, habitat, distribution, natural history, photographs (including colour variations), maps and medical significance in terms of snake bite.

Following the species descriptions there is a section dedicated to snakebites, discussing the importance of accurate data on location of snakes and snakebites. This section discusses the importance of increasing awareness about them and what could be done in local communities and offers advice on both avoiding snakebites and preventing them both in the home and in the field.

There is a very interesting section on venom and its variation, loosely grouped into four types looking at the one or more of the eight components that they contain. This is followed by an informative section on the do’s and don’ts of snakebite first aid including what to do if venom enters the eyes from a spitting cobra and guidance for medical professionals and important questions to ask and administering the antivenom at medical centres.

Dangerous Snakes Of Africa is a very informative and interesting book and an indispensable guide to those working throughout Africa, be that naturalists, conservationists, educators, field workers or medical personnel with additional links and further reading literature in the appendices.