On Safari in East and Southern Africa
Aubrey Wynne-Jones (Macmillan South Africa Ltd., 1980, 180 pages)
Reviewed by Ken Bailey
Like many others, early on I read the books of Capstick, Ruark and Hunter, dreaming of the day I could live out my own African hunting adventure. As that dream neared reality, I went looking for books that were less adventure-oriented and more instructive. It was 1986, and where I lived, in Edmonton, Alberta, with no internet and few resources available, I stumbled across this title and had my local bookstore bring in a copy. The price tag is still on it, $41.95, a princely sum for a book in those days. But Wynne-Jones’ book provided me with useful advice as I planned my safari, and much of it still holds up today.
The first section provides a ton of practical information; some is targeted to the visiting hunter, while other sections pertain more to the DIY hunter. The latter includes recommendations for camp gear, set-up and location, food and beverage suggestions, tracking tips, and advice on emergency and game extraction equipment to carry in your vehicle. Of course, these activities are largely handled by PHs and their teams for the vast majority of us today; DIY is restricted to local residents as far as I know.
The book’s section on rifle, cartridge and optics recommendations for the various species has been duplicated and bested in any number of books dedicated to these topics, before and since. Some of what’s here, particularly the optics section, is outdated, and several of today’s popular cartridges hadn’t been developed when this book was written. Still, the suggestions provided are meaningful and will resonate with many hunters, especially those who still prefer a .270 Win. to one of the many new 6.5s or .277s on the market.
There’s a short section on bullet placement that focusses on the big five, a brief chapter on bird hunting, and a detailed listing of Rowland Ward’s minimum trophy standards for nearly every imaginable species of game, along with detailed instructions, complete with accurate sketches, as to how each species is to be measured. As an Appendix to the book, there’s also detailed instructions and minimum scores for the SCI scoring method—my book is the 2nd edition, printed in 1982; I’m not certain if the first edition includes the SCI information or whether it was added as an Appendix in subsequent printings only.
The largest section of this book dedicates a couple pages or more to every popular, and some not so popular, game species. Each is broken down into subsections—species identification (including height, weight, color, horn description, etc.), preferred habitat and basic behaviour, the regions where the best trophies have been taken (including maps), and a short section revealing some basic hunting tips. Each species page is also beautifully illustrated by South African artist André de Villiers. Interestingly, this section in my copy of the book still has my pencil notations on several pages, remnants from me attempting to narrow down my “want and can afford” list as I planned my first safari.
It’s fair to say that there have been several books published that offer advice for planning your safari that are more complete or more up-to-date than this one, including significantly greater information on the landscapes, hunting conditions and game animals you can expect to encounter—Mellon’s African Hunter and African Hunter II edited by Boddington and Flack immediately come to mind. Still, Wynne-Jones’ Hunting—On Safari in East and Southern Africa is an eminently readable book that is well-thought out and contains an immense amount of information that’s as accurate and useful today as it was when it was written.