The Call of Carnivores - Pelagic Publishing

The Call of Carnivores

Travels of a Field Biologist

  • Meticulous observation of animal behaviour to understand the ecology and natural history of wild carnivores
  • Behind the scenes with a leading biologist studying animal behaviour
  • Extensive photographs and drawings of animal behaviour
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    • Kruuk provides an exciting and interesting narrative; a mixture of informative discoveries in the natural sciences and the recounting of the journey of his own personal experiences, reflections and contemplations.
      —Katherine Whitehouse-Tedd, Journal of Vertebrate Biology
    • behaviour
    • birds
    • ecology
    • ethology
    • hyaena
    • Kalahari
    • mammals
    • memoirs
    • ornithology
    • Serengeti
    • southern Africa


    Carnivores include some of the most impressive, dangerous and mysterious animals in the world. Hans Kruuk has spent his life studying them against magnificent backdrops, from the Serengeti savannahs and Kalahari deserts to the Scottish Highlands, from the Galápagos Islands to the Far East. In each location he has used meticulous observation of animal behaviour to understand the ecology and natural history of wild carnivore populations, and ultimately to promote their conservation.

    This book describes the methods, challenges and rewards of the science of behavioural ecology. However, it essentially concerns the personal, rather than the scientific, side of that work, and above all the field experiences involved. With photographs and line drawings, it brings to life African safaris, the hyena in his bath, flights with vultures, dives with otters, attacks by a badger in Scotland and by feral dogs in Galápagos, gull-eating hedgehogs in Britain and the role of animals in African witchcraft. The author communicates his lifelong fascination with wildlife through these unique experiences and the insights they afforded him.

    Professor Kruuk is a leading authority on animal behaviour and the author of classic studies of hyaenas, otters and badgers, as well as a biography of his Oxford mentor Niko Tinbergen.


    This book is written for lay readers interested in animal behaviour and ecology, natural history, conservation, large animals and wild areas around the world, especially Africa. Secondly, it is aimed at students, of all levels, of animal behaviour and ecology of mammals and birds.

    Table of Contents

    1. In the field
    2. Camouflage in an aquarium
    3. Gulls and their enemies: foxes and hedgehogs
    4. Serengeti: hyenas, lions and the dusty track to Seronera
    5. Solomon, the hyena in my bath
    6. Clans of the savannah
    7. Hyenas hunt
    8. Witches, and death in the dark
    9. Masai, people and art on the Serengeti plains
    10. Striped without a clan
    11. Kalahari desert: a story of sand dunes, people, hyenas and badgers
    12. Nomads of northern Kenya
    13. Harar, town of the people’s hyena
    14. Vultures gathering
    15. Flying next to vultures
    16. Chasing dogs on Darwin’s islands
    17. Badgering in Britain
    18. Olfactory delights and olives
    19. Shetland otters
    20. Otters in and around the garden
    21. Otters, crocodiles and orcas
    22. Three monks, calls of gibbons, and otters in Thailand
    23. Down under: Platypus, Quolls and leeches
    24. Just one last project


    • In “The Call of Carnivores” Kruuk sheds a more intimate light on his research career than we are able to glean from his numerous scientific publications. Readers are taken along for the scientist’s geographical and professional journey as he entertains us with stories about the many aspects of fieldwork which never make it into published papers. ..... This book demonstrates how significant contributions to science typically involve a combination of conscientiousness, a good measure of fortuitous meetings or conversations, an abundance of peer support and most importantly – the capacity to recognise and seize opportunities with both hands when they appear.
      —Katherine Whitehouse-Tedd (Nottingham Trent University), Journal of Vertebrate Biology
    • Kruuk is a humble and engaging narrator… I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who has felt the call of wild places and wild species.
      —Heather Cray, The Canadian Field-Naturalist

    About the Author

    Hans Kruuk is a behavioural ecologist with a particular interest in carnivore behaviour, life history and conservation. He did his PhD under Niko Tinbergen at the University of Oxford in 1964, on behaviour of gulls and their predators. He then became Deputy Director of the Serengeti Research Institute in Tanzania, before moving back to the University of Oxford in 1971 as Research Fellow, then to the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council, at the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology in Scotland as a Senior Principal Research Officer. He has authored over 120 scientific publications and seven books, including The spotted hyena, predation and social behavior (1972), The social badger (1989), Wild otters (1995), Otters, ecology, behaviour and conservation (2006), Hunter and hunted (2002) and a biography of Niko Tinbergen (Niko’s Nature, 2003). He has received scientific medals from the Zoological Society of London and the British Mammal Society, and is an Honorary Professor at the University of Aberdeen.

    Bibliographic Information

    • 200 pages
    • 176 colour illus, 55 b/w line drawings
    • BISAC SCI070060, SCI020000, SCI070030, NAT019000, BIO026000