Peter Ginn is thrilled to be able to handle a copy of his latest book, The Ultimate Companion for Birding in Southern Africa. Photo: Alida de Beer
GEORGE NEWS - Peter Ginn, bird enthusiast and author, was elated at being able to handle a copy of his 12th birding book, fresh from the press, when it arrived from Singaporean printers recently.
The Ultimate Companion for Birding in Southern Africa is a gorgeous, full-colour, glossy double-volume guide for birding enthusiasts. The book is the 'follow-up' to The Complete Book of Southern African Birds, which was published in 1989. It is a more comprehensive version and has been a vision of Peter's (now 76) for some years.
Geoff McIlleron, from Nature's Valley (also 76), who was the photographic editor for the first volume, joined forces with Peter again on the new issue.
Magnificent photographs depict all 960 bird species known to occur in the Southern African sub-region, and are complemented with interesting relevant information on each bird. The book contains 70 more species than the 1989 edition. Peter is also pleased that photographs for even the rarest birds could be found, which was not possible previously. Over 1 400 photos submitted by 144 photographers were used, which were selected after a sifting process of 30 000 photos. These photographs were sourced through advertising in birding magazines and sending invites to photographic societies.
"It was hard work for two years non-stop, but it was worth it. This new book has come out exactly as I envisaged it," said Peter.
He unexpectedly managed to find a publisher after Struik, publishers of The Complete Book of Southern African Birds, said a new book would be too expensive. Peter visited Iain Buchan, environmentalist and owner of Blue Crane Nature Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, to advise him on making the reserve more bird-friendly. The topic of the book came up and Iain offered to publish the book on the condition that profits go to The Unlimited Child, a non-profit organisation founded by Iain.
His vision is to distribute educational toys to crèches to enhance early childhood development in South Africa.
It is four years after Peter and Iain's first meeting, and now a shipment of 15 000 copies of the book is on its way to South Africa.
As the coordinator of the project, Peter worked with a team of 17 text authors (all ornithological experts), plus two text editors, two photographic editors and three review editors who checked the scientific facts.
The first edition of The Complete Book of Southern African Birds sold a record 30 000 copies in 10 years, and in the year of publication it was one of the 10 books selected to give to the Queen's Library in 1989. Peter hopes that the new edition will do as well so that it will impact on education.
A high school teacher for 30 years, Peter and his late wife left Zimbabwe in 2004 to settle in George, where he has given bird talks about the environment to approximately 2 000 school learners each year.
Other books that Peter has published include Basic Bird ID in Southern Africa (2011), Waterbirds of Southern Africa (1982), Birds of the Zimbabwe Highveld and Birds of the Zimbabwe Lowveld (1970s).
The Ultimate Companion for Birding in Southern Africa costs R1 476,30 and is sold online only. For more information please phone Peter on 072 279 7013. (All profits go to The Unlimited Child for preschool education.)
ARTICLE: ALIDA DE BEER, GEORGE HERALD JOURNALIST
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