Book review: The Lion, the Dung Beetle and the Veld Toolbox

The Lion, the Dung Beetle and the Veld Toolbox

David Bristow


Review: Karen Watkins

Do giraffes hunt in packs? Do hippos really kill more people in Africa than any other animal? And who really is the elephant’s closest living relative?

From busting myths to sharing information, travel journalist, environmental scientist and specialist tour guide, Bristow tells a good yarn.

The book is packed with interesting facts and written with humour and total knowledge of creatures big and small.

By far my favourite stories are those about his travels to the Okavango with mates.

The first with Tony, aka Jerry, so named for having his clothes stolen on a co-ed school tour and going back to camp with his modesty concealed behind a jerry can. The third friend is Donald, Don, most likely Pinnock, who, on the back cover writes: Bristow’s storytelling is so easy you’re unaware that he is laying little fact-traps that make it hard to stop reading. So true.

In another story the three friends, plus two other bush loving school mates, Neil and Ant, go on an even bigger adventure to the “swamps” – a repeat performance of the first when they were sprung from the military.

In another story, Don re-appears in a tale about Big Bertie – not his real name. Bristow and Don, plus their wives, met him when they lived and worked in the Okavango Delta.

There are other stories that include little-known scientific information about nature and some of its creatures along with philosophical discussion on the nature of wilderness, hunting, safari tales, bush legends and women in the wilderness – and the odd man.

Bristow lives in Marina da Gama with his partner, four boats, three bicycles, two surfboards and a cat.

He was the editor of travel magazine Getaway for 13 years and is the author of 20 books on South and southern African natural history and more recently on history and cultural heritage. This is the fourth in his Stories from the Veld series.

All in all, a thoroughly good read, either to dip in between other books or to devour in one go.