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Book Reviews (2)
While alien plants have been well-publicised, Alien & Invasive Animals, by Mike Picker and Charles Griffiths is the first book to be published on alien animals in Africa. With a list more than 300 invasive animals that have settled in South Africa, this book describes the history of each invasion, and the ecological and economic impacts in South Africa; and it discusses the effect of introduced biocontrol agents (usually insects), which are also alien species released deliberately to control problem plants.
Invaded – the biological invasion of South Africa is a well-researched and written account of plant and animal invasions in South Africa. The book is beautifully illustrated with colour photographs throughout. The layout is neat and easy to follow, with numerous informative boxes highlighting subjects of particular interest. Leonie Joubert is an accomplished author and has also written two award-winning titles on climate change – Scorched: South Africa’s changing climate and Boiling point: People in a changing climate.
The rapid advance of human exploration and travel across the globe over the last few centuries has aided numerous seeds and stowaways to be transported to new environments. Many species were also intentionally relocated to new places to provide food and shelter for newly settled immigrants. The extraordinary and beautiful plants and flowers generated much interest among botanists and horticulturists who planted these species in gardens and parks in their homelands as well as newly established towns. Certain trees were propagated across the world for timber as they grew faster and denser than indigenous trees. Unfortunately, some of these species found these new environments free of natural predators with suitable conditions leading to rapid expansion – often to the detriment of indigenous species and water resources.
Invaded – the biological invasion of South Africa is divided into 17 chapters with a foreword written by the late Professor Kader Asmal, former Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry and the driving force behind the Working for Water project – one of the most successful environmental and job creation programmes in South Africa. The 17 chapters discuss the following topics:
- History and progression of biological invasions.
- Invasions in the Cape Floral Kingdom.
- The threat of woody tree invaders on our water resources.
- Marine invaders such as mussels, oysters and crabs.
- The invasive Argentine ant.
- Avian invaders such as the mallard and house crow.
- Triffid weed and its impact on the Nile crocodile.
- Spread of invasive plants along servitudes and transportation routes.
- Exotic grasses naturalised in South Africa.
- Eurasian wild pigs.
- The European wasp.
- Honeybees and reed frogs.
- Invasive alien fish and water weeds.
- Cats and mice on offshore islands.
- Genetically modified crops and global food security.
- Strategies to contain invasion.
- South Africa’s weedy exports.
The detrimental environmental and economic implications are only now starting to be fully realised and the cost to our economy and water resources has been the subject of many detailed studies. This book is a fantastic resource for students of invasion biology as well as anyone concerned about our environmental and economic future.
TITLE: Invaded – The biological invasion of South Africa
AUTHOR: Leonie Joubert with photographs by Rodger Bosch
PUBLISHER: Wits University Press, 2009