Man has in cause of time developed skills to survive in its natural environment. One of these skills was to be able to hunt effectively. We know that man had to develop its skills in the art of tracking to become more effective hunters. The refinement of the art of tracking ensured the development in better techniques to locate elusive game such as Lion, Leopard, special sought after species.
For the individual to develop into an expert tracker one must study the origin of the art to realise that a good knowledge of nature and experience is essential. Knowledge of nature does not only include a thorough knowledge of the quarry but of the plant and animal life in the environment as well. Motivation is one of the most important factors in tracking. A tracker is of no use if he is not motivated to catch up with his quarry. A motivated tracker will also show interest in the art and make use of his knowledge to improve his skills.
Spoor interpretation and creative thinking are very important if a tracker want to be successful in the following of the quarry. Creative thinking can play a vital part in tracking especially when the quarry is on the move and the spoor is old. The development of senses in the natural environment is necessary to perceive all signs during tracking.
To track wild animals successfully you need more than to just identify a clear track or print. Due to different types of terrain, you need to recognize different signs and their variations. In loose sand, rocky or a hard substrate it is virtually impossible to characterize a track, and mostly aerial signs will be visible where the soil is covered with vegetation.
Droppings or dung, feeding behavior, preferred habitat and knowledge of distribution ranges, combined with identification of a track, would give the best results especially when tracks have a close resemblance. It is beneficial to follow the track and signs for a distance and gather as much information as possible before you make your conclusion. Don’t look at one sign on which you base your conclusion.
The skill of tracking is becoming increasingly rarer due to the fact that Homo Sapiens are becoming more urbanised. The ability to recognise, interpret signs and to track an animal will add another dimension to your safari, trail or hunt.
The art of tracking has developed into a science with many practical use and plays a major role in nature conservation Eco-tourism, environmental education, scientific research, the control and the fight against poaching, nature research programs and trophy hunting.
However, it is impossible to become a tracker from simply reading a book or attending a short course, this is a start and with an expanding knowledge of the bush and a bit of experience, it will be remarkable what a little practical thinking and application can do. One needs practical experience to master the art of tracking. The art of tracking also includes the continuous process of discovery and the most experienced tracker will always find something to learn.
Your tracking ability can only but enhances the enjoyment of nature.