The ability to track is important in several fields within conservation, including poaching control, ecotourism, environmental education and scientific research. Whether you are looking at developing your tracking skills as part of a career in conservation, or out of personal interest as a nature enthusiast, our introductory Tracking Course will benefit you through helping you to recognise as well as interpret tracks and other signs, enhance your understanding of animal behaviour, and increase your appreciation of how all living things within an ecosystem are connected.
The training system upon which our introductory Tracking Course is based, is referred to as the Cyber Tracker system. The CyberTracker system has been developed by Louis Liebenberg, leading authority in the art of tracking, and author of one his books, “The Art of Tracking, the Origin of Science”
Louis Liebenberg writes in his books, “The art of tracking involves being able to recognise and interpret each and every sign of animal presence that can be found in nature, including:
- Ground spoor (footprints) Territorial signs
- Vegetation spoor Paths and Shelters
- Scent Vocal and Auditory signs
- Feeding signs Visual signs
- Urine Incidental signs
- Faeces Circumstantial signs
- Saliva Skeletal signs
Footprints provide the most detailed information on the identity, movements and activities of animals, and once a trail has been identified, other signs can be studied in more detail.
“Footprints therefore offer a valuable introduction to the art of tracking, a science that might otherwise prove inaccessible to the inexperienced naturalist. …tracks and signs offer information on undisturbed, natural behaviour, while direct observations often influence the animal by the mere presence of the observer. Tracking is a non-invasive method of information gathering, in which potential stress caused to animals can be minimised.”
As Louis Liebenberg explains, examining and learning to recognise spoor (footprints) of animals is the basis for learning to track, and thus, our Introduction to Tracking Course focuses strongly on the identification and interpretation of tracks and signs found in the bush, rather than the trailing component.
This course will provide you with the perfect foundation for further developing your tracking skills to a point where you are able to trail animals successfully.
What to expect in a day of tracking:
After a lovely evening meeting the rest of the tracking group and enjoying a fire whilst getting to know everyone, we start Day One with an introductory lecture and presentation on tracking, where you will receive useful advice on how to make the most of your experience whilst on our tracking course, as well as have the training and evaluation procedures for the course explained.
Later in the afternoon, we head out into the bush to start the practical journey of learning how to recognise the tracks and signs we find out there!
The majority of your time from this point onward will be dedicated to practical training sessions, where you will be given the opportunity to develop your spoor recognition skills, whilst at the same time learning about our natural surroundings.
For the rest of the course, a typical day involves heading out at first light after tea or coffee with a light continental breakfast (we may also decide to take pre-packed breakfast packs out into the bush instead), returning to the Nakavango Conservation Centre for brunch. You will be given time to refresh and do revision exercises before we head out later in the afternoon for another practical track and sign session, lasting until available light allows. Evenings are spent either around the fire, or continuing with revision exercises and activities.
A couple of nights may be spent camping in the bush, providing the opportunity to enjoy and become acquainted with the sounds of the African night. During our camping evenings, we set up “camera-traps” which are non-invasive cameras operating with an infra-red beam that do not disturb animals as they walk past and get their snapshot taken! A challenge enjoyed immensely the following morning is for all our aspiring trackers to identify which animal tracks they find in the area in front of the camera-traps, with each person’s secret list being compared against the footage thereafter.
The final couple of days are dedicated to the Track and Sign Evaluation, where you are given the chance to evaluate what you have learnt throughout the course, with the last evening being enjoyed by all around the fire, and course certificates issued to each participant.
- Photographic field guide to the tracks of southern Africa (Louis Liebenberg)
- It is suggested that students follow this link where you can download a free e-book by Louis Liebenberg called “The Art of Tracking: The Origin of Science”.
- The book, “A Field Guide to the Animal Tracks of Southern Africa” is unfortunately out of print, but students can download a free copy here.
- Sasol OR Robert’s Birds of Southern Africa field guide
- Mammal Field Guide (Smithers)
- Beat about the bush (Mammals, and Birds if possible) (Trevor Carnaby)
- Any other books on animal behaviour