Tracking: What is animal tracking?
Animal tracking (also known as spoorsny in Afrikaans) is more complex than most people might think. We invite you to join us on this exciting learning adventure, while you learn to connect with nature and get back to your roots.
When it comes to tracking and reading signs in the bush, you must not only focus on what you can see on the ground in front of you. You must be aware of what preceded the imprint you are looking at as well as keep an eye open for other clues that might lead to the identity of the animal, bird or insect.
Animal tracking (also known as spoorsny in Afrikaans) is more complex than most people might think, all aspects of tracking may take years to master but with the correct guidance and practical training, you will be able to know how to identify some tracks in a matter of time. Tracking is an ancient art that forms the basis of many bush skills.
Animal tracks and signs
When looking at a track, there are so many questions to be answered. Who was here first? Was it the bird or the insect? It is this sort of information that can be gleaned from two simple sets of tracks. Many people do not know how to distinguish between a lion and leopard track, or to tell the difference between an aardvark and a warthog hole.
To think of it, you can compare reading animal tracks to opening a newspaper or magazine. The story will unfold in front of you…
Although the general term refers to animal tracking, you don’t always look at the track alone, animals leave different clues in the surrounding areas to be identified. Combining these signs, together with the tracks on the ground can give you all the information you need to make an informed decision as to who the animal is. Tracking is endlessly fascinating and an essential skill in the bush. But knowing how to track could literally save a life.
Interpretation of tracks and signs
Learning to interpret the intricacies of an elephant track, for example, can help one understand the individual’s age, sex and walking speed. Despite being the largest land mammal on the planet, elephants have an uncanny ability to disappear into the bush. But these creatures have a very distinctive odour. Walking around the bush with open eyes and nostrils can definitely help when trying to spot these creatures.
Finding lion tracks in the bush is also always exciting. Through proper training, you receive guidance on predicting the behaviour of lions too. The alarm calls of birds, monkeys, squirrels and a whole host of other species will ensure that one is always aware of the presence of any cats.
Crocodiles lying on river banks also leave fascinating tracks. Whether it’s the imprint of their scales, the drag marks of their tails or their sharp claw marks on the sand, the tracks of a crocodile are incredibly detailed. For bush lovers, tracking is one of the most useful skills to have. It can be learned by anyone. But with a little bit of help from EcoTraining’s instructors, tracking can become an obsession.
Who offers Tracking courses?
EcoTraining offers 7 and or 14-day EcoTracker Courses. Depending on the duration you choose, different aspects of Tracking are covered during each course.
There are two major aspects to tracking – Track and Sign Interpretation and Trailing (following animal trails).
- Track and Sign Interpretation (7-Days) – this component of tracking looks at the signs left by invertebrates, amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals.
- Trailing (14-Days) – this component involves following tracks to find the animal. Mastering trailing takes years and this aspect of the course requires a relatively high level of fitness and an ability to focus mentally.
EcoTracker’s instructors are amongst the best animal trailers in South Africa and we pride ourselves on our ability to teach this complex skill. We invite you to join us on this exciting learning adventure, while you learn to connect with nature and get back to your roots. Email [email protected] for more information.
If you want to get the ball rolling or just want to brush up your tracking skills why not try your hand at our EcoTraining Track and Sign Quiz?