chapter
10 Pages

Introduction

Tracking is the ability to pursue and close with an animal or human subject by following signs, o en called spoor which is an Afrikaans word, le behind in the environment. ese signs include impressions in the ground such as footprints or scu marks, disturbed vegetation, evidence of feeding, biological waste, sounds and smells. Experienced trackers determine the direction of their subject’s movement by the appearance of these signs. Furthermore, the approximate age of spoor, which tells the tracker how far ahead in time and space the subject is, can be estimated by looking at how a sign has been changed over time by various factors such as drying of soil or broken foliage, movement of insects or animals that superimpose other signs, and weather especially rain. e position of the sun and resulting shadows are also important points in observing and interpreting spoor the conditions for which are best at rst and last light. Tracking requires a thorough familiarity of the geography, climate and ecology of a speci c locale as signs and the factors that a ect them will be di erent in an open desert or a dense jungle. is skill also involves a great deal of informed speculation that allows a tracker who loses a trail to imagine the most likely path of the subject and attempt to pick up further signs in that direction. Catching up with prey is central to the exercise which means trackers usually avoid taking note of each and every sign directly in front of them, and prefer to look ahead to see spoor at a distance. When a knowledgeable tracker is being tracked, he or she can practise anti-tracking which means devising various methods to try to conceal signs or deceive the pursuer as to direction or age of spoor.