This week was focussed on one topic, tracking. Personally, as a guide with around a decade worth of experience, I can safely say that trackers are the unsung heroes of the guiding world. This week we had a closer look at the skills of these talented individuals, and how much you can tell from looking at what the animal has done, without seeing the actual animal, such as a jackal scratching his fleas???
So what can be tracked? Well that’s simple, anything that has left a sign, can be tracked. This week we looked at as many tracks and signs as we could find, ranging from small things like mice and birds, to the big old hairy and scary’s. Talking about the big ones, as always we had a number of big game sightings this week, and it felt like some of the elephants on the reserve were following us, hearing and seeing them wherever we went this week.
Now being introduced to the wonderful world of tracking, we didn’t look at the animals in the usual way, but rather how and where they place their feet. Tracks of all shapes and sizes were studied, and studied again and then studied some more. We decided to break the routine of simply identifying tracks, with the other aspect of tracking, the trailing of tracks, with students following one another’s tracks through the bush. Another eye-opening exercise as to the importance of a skilled tracker, was to look at the role of identifying tracks in crime scenes, especially with the current rhino poaching crisis, we have lost close to 600 rhino’s this year in South Africa! Truly disgusting!
All of the hard work this week was put to the test at the end of the week, when the dreaded evaluation started, a day and a half of track and sign quiz, with the aim of obtaining a cyber-tracker certificate! A big thank you goes out to all the students and staff for all their hard work this week, all your efforts have paid off! A special thank you goes out to Colin Patrick and his assistant (and former Bushwise student) Jacques Louw, under your great mentoring, we can see there are a few more people in the guiding world who are now addicted to tracking!
Until next time,
Charles & The Bushwise Team
Photo below taken by Frank van Tiggelen
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