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Inspector Gadget Reports: Ultimate Field Guide
  by R. Mann

Dung Key

The third key is the Dung Key. Dung as in poop. I have not until now been a great fan of dung. But, as they say, dung happens.

I now find out that the dung of every African animal is like a fingerprint - they all leave different deposits on the ground and identify the animal as sure as any picture on a wanted poster. Good, I say. Let me check it out.

Because I don't keep a sample of leopard dung in my briefcase to show my friends before dinner, I choose the dung I know: the Cape buffalo. I remember that it's like a cow pat and begin my search.

Distribution Matrix

I choose Shapeless Dung (because I noticed that when it falls from the rear of the buffalo it falls as it likes) and identify the buffalo in 3 clicks and 5 seconds. Amazing!

The last is the one I like the best: The Distribution Matrix. What they have done is to divide Southern Africa into 46 sectors or areas. When you click on an area you immediately get a list of mammals that occur naturally in that area. I have never seen this anywhere and nobody I know of has ever seen this done.

The list that you get is a number of hyperlinks to the individual mammal pages and lets you jump directly to any of them. Great!

Just to test my newfound skill I decide to use the search function, which is another thing that you guys with paper books can't do.

I remember that the eyes of Bushbabies in Africa reflect a bright red in the spotlight at night. This will be the ultimate (no pun intended) test.

I select Search and type in "red" and let 'er rip. Sure enough, the eBook finds the Lesser Bushbaby and the Thick-tailed Bushbaby, showing me that I am not the only person in the world who holds this information. What a pity.

I am very impressed with The Ultimate Field Guide. I get tons of relevant information on mammals and quickly and easily identify them by silhouette, tracks and dung. It is so easy to use that anyone who can surf the web can now be a San bushman.

The only gripe I have is that The Ultimate Field Guide for Southern African Birds and The Ultimate Field Guide for Southern African Trees and The Ultimate Field Guide for Southern African Reptiles are not available yet. Get a move on, guys!

I am now an expert on gadgets and Ebooks. I am chucking my paper books on the back burner and I am now digital.

So, Ultimate Field Guide, when is The Ultimate Field Guide going to be available for my new PocketPC?


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