Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa

Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa John W. Wilson and Richard B. Primack
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78374-750-4 £42.95
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78374-751-1 £59.95
PDF ISBN: 978-1-78374-752-8 £0.00
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Read about the importance of this contribution on our .

Johnny Wilson, who I have known since he was a wee undergraduate in South Africa has just published an excellent text book on conservation. He's done so with Richard Primack, who has an unrivalled record of texts on conservation. It's very good indeed. And, it's free to download. Very well done, gentlemen, and my sincere thanks for your commitment to making science readily available to those who often cannot afford expensive text books. Kudos all round. 

—Stuart Pimm, Founder and President of Saving Nature and the Doris Duke Professor of Conservation at Duke University
'"Sometimes even music cannot substitute for tears,” Paul Simon once sang. Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa is an extremely well-written and beautifully illustrated magnum opus on almost all things biological that pertain to the difficult subject of conservation in sub-Saharan Africa. It can be viewed as a primer on ecology, a call to arms and, almost, a cry of despair as much as a reference on conservation. I found that I could only read a small part each time I opened it. The facts and problems, given in such lucid and easy-to-read detail, are enough to make you cry. It requires courage to face the existential problems that confront wildlife (and indeed humans) in Africa. That the authors have done so, and even offer glimpses of hope, is to be applauded, as is their decision to make the book available for free on the internet.

Derek Charlwood, The Biologist, Royal Society of Biology, 2019, available here.

This innovative book provides essential background and valuable tools for conservation everywhere, especially in Africa.

—J. Burger, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, CHOICE Connect, 2020.

This textbook – the first conservation biology textbook for Africa – is unique in its optimal use of examples of conservation efforts in the continent, and brilliant description of the interdisciplinary nature of conservation biology. I commend the authors for making this textbook open access and for their dedication to building human capital in Africa for effective biodiversity conservation. I recommend this textbook for African students, conservation personnel, policymakers and everyone interested in nature conservation.

—Temitope Borokini, President, Africa section of the Society for Conservation Biology (2019–2022)

We finally have a textbook to teach our students conservation biology in an African context. Its comprehensive chapters are supplemented with real-world case-studies, written by researchers and practitioners across the region. What better way to equip and inspire our students for conservation action?
—Dr Bruktawit Abdu Mahamued, Biology Department, Kotebe Metropolitan University

Conservation Biology is a comprehensive study of the Sub-Saharan environment, covering both the challenges and potential solutions to key conservation issues; it is extremely easy to read, and is pitched at an appropriate level for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The fact that this book is being published open access means that it will be extensively used and thus help a wide range of students and conservation personnel that would not have access to this information otherwise. I commend the authors on this.

Prof Adrian M Shrader, Department of Zoology & Entomology, University of Pretoria

With their writing skills and expertise, the authors have been able to produce an outstanding textbook. I am convinced that this book will be a fundamental resource for future conservation biologists and ecologists. It is published under a Creative Attribution International license, making this textbook accessible to all, which will be especially valuable in sub-Saharan African institutions.

Herbst, M., 2020, ‘Review: Conservation Biology in sub-Saharan Africa’, Koedoe 62(1), a1635.

'Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa' provides a wonderful and useful toolkit with relevant guidelines for aspiring conservation biologists and anyone who wishes to understand the dynamics associated with conservation practice in Africa.

Nakedi Maputla, African Wildlife Foundation, Kenya, Biological Conservation 244 (2020) 108509

Every once and awhile, there comes along a publication where your first reaction is, "Well, it is about time!”. For me, that was how I felt when I first heard about the new, free textbook ‘Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa’. ...the authors have provided an important resource to students and conservation practitioners across Sub-Saharan Africa. My hope is that in doing so, the future of African conservation is a bit brighter.
Adrian M Shrader (2020): 'Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa', African Journal of Range & Forage Science, DOI: 10.2989/10220119.2020.1817781

The authors are to be congratulated on publishing an open-access book brimming with examples relevant to Africa. My fervent hope is that it will assist in some way in the training of a cohort of passionate and persistent leaders among the next generation of conservation biologists. We are going to need them. 

Van Wilgen BW. 'A valuable resource for African conservation students'. South African Journal of Science. 2021;117(5/6), Art. #9310.

Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa comprehensively explores the challenges and potential solutions to key conservation issues in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Easy to read, this lucid and accessible textbook includes fifteen chapters that cover a full range of conservation topics, including threats to biodiversity, environmental laws, and protected areas management, as well as related topics such as sustainability, poverty, and human-wildlife conflict. This rich resource also includes a background discussion of what conservation biology is, a wide range of theoretical approaches to the subject, and concrete examples of conservation practice in specific African contexts. Strategies are outlined to protect biodiversity whilst promoting economic development in the region.

Boxes covering specific themes written by scientists who live and work throughout the region are included in each chapter, together with recommended readings and suggested discussion topics. Each chapter also includes an extensive bibliography.

Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa provides the most up-to-date study in the field. It is an essential resource, available on-line without charge, for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a handy guide for professionals working to stop the rapid loss of biodiversity in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.

Visit the 'Additional Resources' section to find out more about how to download individual chapters and images, upload material to the teaching platform that will be launched in the forthcoming months or join the textbook's discussion forum.

The Lounsbery Foundation has generously contributed to the publication of this volume.

Individual chapters are available for download in the 'Contents' tab.

Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa
John W. Wilson and Richard B. Primack | September 2019
694 pp. | 223 colour illustrations | 8" x 10" in (254 x 203 mm)
ISBN Paperback: 9781783747504
ISBN Hardback: 9781783747511
ISBN Digital (PDF): 9781783747528
ISBN Digital ebook (epub): 9781783747535
ISBN Digital ebook (mobi): 9781783747542
ISBN Digital (XML): 9781783747559
DOI: 10.11647/OBP.0177
Subject codes: BIC: RNKC (Conservation of the environment), 1HF (Sub-Saharan Africa), RNKH (Conservation of wildlife and habitats), RNC (Applied ecology); BISAC: NAT010000 (Ecology), NAT011000 (Environmental Conservation & Protection), SCI026000 (Environmental Science), NAT001000 (NATURE / Animals / General); OCLC Number: 1193076125.

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ContentsDownload PDF
List of Boxes

List of Acronyms

Chapter 1: What is Conservation Biology?Download PDF

Chapter 2: Introduction to Sub-Saharan AfricaDownload PDF

Chapter 3: What is Biodiversity?Download PDF

Chapter 4: Why Should We Protect Biodiversity?Download PDF

Chapter 5: The Scramble for SpaceDownload PDF

Chapter 6: Our Warming WorldDownload PDF

Chapter 7: Pollution, Overharvesting, Invasive Species, and DiseaseDownload PDF

Chapter 8: Extinction is ForeverDownload PDF

Chapter 9: Applied Population BiologyDownload PDF

Chapter 10: Conserving EcosystemsDownload PDF

Chapter 11: Preventing ExtinctionsDownload PDF

Chapter 12: Biodiversity and the LawDownload PDF

Chapter 13: The Importance of Protected AreasDownload PDF

Chapter 14: Conservation on Unprotected LandsDownload PDF

Chapter 15: An Agenda for the FutureDownload PDF

Appendix A: Selected Sources of Information
Appendix B: Selected Environmental Organisations
Appendix C: Obtaining Conservation Funding
Appendix D: Environmental Calendar


John W. Wilson is a conservation biologist interested in solving the dynamic challenges of a changing world. He received his BSc and MSc from Pretoria University, and his PhD from North Carolina State University. He has over 15 years of experience with conservation across Africa. As a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellow, he studied interactions between habitat loss and climate change in West Africa. He also spent 13 months on uninhabited Gough Island, a World Heritage Site in the South Atlantic, where he combatted invasive species. Beyond that, he has studied individual organisms, populations, and natural communities across Southern, East, Central, and West Africa. His work has covered pertinent topics such as conservation planning, population monitoring, protected areas management, translocations, ecological restoration, and movement ecology in savannahs, grasslands, forests, wetlands, and agricultural systems. His love for nature also dominates his free time; he has contributed over 50,000 observation records to the citizen science platforms eBird and iNaturalist, which he also helps curate. 

Richard B. Primack is a Professor of Biology, specializing in plant ecology, conservation biology, and tropical ecology.  He is the author of three widely used conservation biology textbooks; local co-authors have helped to produce 36 translations of these books with local examples. He has been Editor-in-Chief of the journal Biological Conservation, and served as President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. His research documents the effects of climate change on plants and animals in the Eastern U.S.A., and is often featured in the popular press.  

Individual images and chapters:

You can download individual chapters and images here.

Teaching resources:

We will soon be launching a teaching platform on which you will be able to share your notes, lesson plans and presentations with other teachers and academics in the field of conservation biology. If you are interested in uploading your teaching material to this platform, you can do so here. Please, notify John W. Wilson here after uploading your content. 

Discussion forum:

You can report updates, corrections or add your comments by joining the discussion forum for 'Conservation Biology in Sub-Saharan Africa' here.


You can download a leaflet for the book here.