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The Bedside Ark, a book by David Muirhead, comprises of 42 short accounts of Southern Africa’s vibrant collection of wild animals. In particular, it is a riotous assembly of supposedly unrespectable creatures.

   The book airs the dirty laundry (and shares the trade secrets) of some of Africa’s wackiest, most eccentric fauna. Basing his accounts on accurate detail, but always looking on the light side, author David Muirhead captures the weird and wonderful lives of his subjects; investigating their often exaggerated reputations, their habits, weaknesses, and modi operandi.

   With the deluge of horrors on the evening news, goodness knows what the world will be like when our children’s children reach our age. And in these ominous times, it's important that we give every animal the due respect and protection they deserve – going beyond the iconic, the cute and the cuddly, to even those that initially appear ‘unrespectable’.

   There are many things about wild creatures that are probably unknowable, and for the sake of sanity - theirs and ours - that’s probably how it should be. They are the tenacious keepers of mysteries in a world that is rapidly being stripped of wonder. The creatures in this book – and all those that aren’t – against the odds will use all the wiles and talents nature gave them to try to make sure their descendants get to a faraway day. We fervently hope they succeed. The above introduction, and all the extracts that follow, have been adapted from this utterly hilarious, and downright fantastic, book. And the photos in this gallery are courtesy of some of the most talented wildlife photographers on the continent. For the full write-up on each animal, and many more not shown in the following slides, be sure to order your own copy of The Bedside Ark.

   

To find out more about David Muirhead, head to the last page of this gallery.

   

Cover image provided by Will Burrard-Lucas and taken using a BeetleCam.