Understanding Wildlife Tracking
A skill grounded in logic and adaptability
“Although tracking may appear mystical, it is indeed a legitimate skill. Trackers follow a logical and adaptable process – one that ensures efficiency, speed, and ultimately success, in often-changing conditions.” – Alex Van Den Heever – a world-renowned wildlife tracker, writer, co-founder of Tracker Academy, as well as one of EcoTraining’s Directors.
In the dense thicket, amidst the rustling leaves and whispering breezes, we look beyond the apparent tracks on the ground. It’s about recognizing nature’s subtle hints – fur caught between twigs, a single feather on the ground, and the faint echoes of animal calls.
Tracks and signs tell us many things besides just the species of an animal. It tells us what direction the animal was going in, the age and gender of the animal if the animal was moving alone or with a group, and even how fast the animal was moving. Through tracking, we get an intimate glimpse into an animal’s world.
The secrets unveiled
The first step is determining whether the track belongs to an insect, bird, reptile, amphibian, or mammal. When tracking, the sun’s position makes a difference – tracks are better visible in early mornings and late afternoons when the angle of shadows allows you to see the depth and size of the tracks.
Understand what the animal is doing. Trackers can identify what animal created a particular set of tracks and also interpret how fast the animal was going based on the spacing of the front and rear footprints from each other.
Analyse the track to estimate when the animal was in the area. Once you know when the animal was there, you can predict how far it is from you and establish the direction it is walking. Always remember that when you encounter the animal you have been tracking, don’t disturb it.
Practice makes perfect
As you embark on this journey, remember that practice makes perfect. Your senses will fine-tune to the bush, and you’ll learn to read tracks and the symphony of sounds and sights around you. Over time, your experience will take over, and you will become less reliant on your field guidebooks to identify animal tracks.
It is essential to base your identification on facts, evidence, and logic. Always be flexible when making conclusions, especially when facing new facts. It is safe to conclude once you are 100% certain of the evidence.
Do you want to taste this ancient knowledge and master traditional tracking skills?
EcoTraining offers a 28-day EcoTracker Course; this course will deepen your connection and understanding of the African bush. Grow familiar with nature’s sounds, sights, and sensations, and harness your newfound skill to track wild animals efficiently and successfully.
Immerse yourself in the African wilderness, expand your knowledge, and embark on a transformative learning experience with EcoTraining.
Sign up for our 28-day EcoTracker Course today!
28-day EcoTracker Course
We joined EcoTraining Instructor Tsundzukani Hlongwane in Karongwe, where we joined the current 28-day EcoTracker students. They give us a glimpse into their experiences while on the course. One incredible experience was tracking a female leopard with her cub. What an excellent opportunity!