Richard D. Estes, PhD

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Dr. Estes’s Website on The Nature of Africa

Personal Statement

Within the fields of mammalogy, ethology, and behavioral ecology, my area of concentration is African mammals, focusing on antelopes and other members of the family Bovidae. Beginning in 1962, I have spent 12 years doing field studies in Africa, mainly in Tanzania but also including Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, and Angola. The time between field studies was spent writing up research results, researching the literature on African mammals, and writing books and articles about them: The Behavior Guide to African Mammals (University of California Press, 1991), The Safari Companion (Chelsea Green, 1993, 1999 [revised edition]), the National Audobon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife (Chanticleer Press, co-author, 1995), and in conservation efforts on behalf of African antelopes, including the publication of the Antelope Specialist Group Newsletter (Gnusletter 1980-). Other ASG publications include Antelopes: Global Survey and Regional Action Plans, Parts 1-3 covering Sub-saharan Africa, Part 4 covering North Africa and Asia, African Antelope 1998 Database, and 9 Antelope Survey Updates.

The main subject of my field work has been the wildebeest, keystone species of the Serengeti and other no-longer intact ecosystems. It was the subject of my doctoral dissertation and subsequent research, most recently from 1996-2000 while carrying out an ecological study of Ngorongoro Crater and Serengetti ungulates. And finally, a two-year study (2002-2004) of the reproductive physiology of the Serengetti wildebeest population begun in collaboration with a colleague from the Smithsonian Center for Conservation and Research. I have committed to writing the first book on the behavioral ecology of this antelope.

Current Positions:

  • Member, IUCN Species Survival Commission
  • Chair, Antelope Specialist Group
  • Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution Center for Research and Conservation
  • Associate, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology


  • BA, Harvard University
  • PhD, Cornell University, Vertebrate Zoology