The Art of Tracking

Tracking may be among the oldest of the sciences. It is also one of the most revealing: trackers gain a detailed understanding of animal behavior through the interpretation of their tracks and other signs, accumulating information – especially on rare or nocturnal species – which might otherwise remain unknown.

Tracking is thus a less invasive process than visual study; it is a method of information gathering in which the amount of stress inflicted on an animal is minimized.

Tracking involves each and every indication of an animal’s presence, including ground spoor, vegetation spoor, scent, feeding, scat, urine, pellets, territorial signs, paths and shelters, vocal and other auditory signs visual signs, incidental signs, circumstantial signs as well as skeletal signs.

Footprints provide the most detailed information on the identity, movement and activities of the animals in the wild. While species may be recognized by general characteristics, each animal’s track has its subtle distinctions, differences dictated by age, mass, sex, physical condition, the local terrain and the wider region (the nature of which gives rise to functional and environmental adaptation).

Most importantly, the tracks and signs of nature help us as rangers and trackers to find the animals for our guests. In addition, finding an animal after tracking it for an hour or two hours is probably one of the most rewarding experiences, not only for us, but for the guests as well.

Johan – Kapama River Lodge
14/09/2012

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