(Above: Old pot shards. You can still see the rim of the pot.)
Day Three and Four of our Tracking Course was spent doing the Track and Sign Assessment. We completed 50 Tracks and Signs by the end. One Ranger and four Trackers received Level 2 Track and Sign Certificates and three Rangers received Level 1 Track and Sign Certificates. The Tracks and Signs are rated as a level 1, 2, or 3 on a difficulty scale. If you get a level 1 question correct, for instance a Giraffe track, then you receive 1 point, but if you get it wrong you are deducted 3 points. A level 2 track is two points if correct and 2 points deducted if incorrect; an example being Kudu or Nyala. A level three track is rewarded with three points but only one point deducted if you answer wrong. However, if a level 1 or 2 track is very old, or incomplete, or difficult due to substrate it can be considered a hard, or level 3 question.
Examples of Tracks and Signs questions asked us where the remains of an old pot that had been burned into the ground. These pots are usually found near termite mounds. They were filled half way with water and put into a hole or indent where the termites, or winged alletes would fall, and then be collected the next day as a source of food. We were also asked Honey Badger in the mud, mud splattering on a bush and leaves from an Elephant having a mud bath, Lion spoor and Leopard, as well as Tree Squirrel, Warthog Dung, and much much more.
(Above: To the right of the red Buck Tool you can see the trackof a Honey Badger.)
The final day, Day Five, was spent Trailing. One person would find the tracks of a Rhino, or Lion and then follow them through the bush until either the animal was found, or the assessor had gathered enough input to make a decision. While following the tracks, the assessee had to preform within certain criteria. Five Trackers and one Ranger completed the Trailing assessment, with the other three Rangers slotted to go another day as we ran out of daylight. Four Trackers received a Level 3 Trailing and one received a Level 1. (As of the time of this Blog the tally score for the Ranger was not in yet.) One Tracker, Given, received a 97% on his Trailing assessment! CONGRATS GIVEN!
By the end we were all tired and dirty, but full of new knowledge and had had an experience of a lifetime. All nine of us cannot wait until our next oportunity to do it again!
By: Noelle DiLorenzo – River Lodge Ranger