Tracker Evaluations

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Introduction

In December 1994 I went to Thornybush Private Game Reserve to conduct the first tracker evaluation. I only had a vague idea of what I was going to do. One of the owners of the reserve, Trevor Jordan, asked me to evaluate his trackers and give them certificates. I decided to issue two certificates – Tracker certificate for 80% and Senior Tracker for 100%. The details of how I was going to evaluate trackers I had to figure out as I go along – I just had to follow my gut feeling for what will work. What made this even more nerve wracking was that due to financial problems (I was broke) I was stuck in Johannesburg for two years and have not even been in the bush, let alone do any serious tracking. So my tracking skills were very rusty. But I had published two books on tracking, so I had a reputation to live up to.

On my arrival I was introduced to a group of rangers and trackers, who were told that I was going to evaluate them. It was clear that they did not think much of this idea – something the boss had forced onto them from above. And after all, who is this guy coming from the city who thinks he can teach them anything about tracking in their own Bushveld terrain. The skepticism was obvious on their faces, which made me even more nervous. I started off by giving an introductory talk about how tracker certificates can help trackers get better jobs and negotiate better salaries. The lack of response from the rangers soon made me move on to the next step – a practical test on spooridentification. So we went out to the nearest waterhole to find some tracks.

Before I could start, one of the Shangaan trackers stopped me. He circled a track in the dust – a faint smudge that looked like nothing. One by one he asked each of the predominantly white rangers what it was – none of them got it right. Then he asked each one of the Shangaan trackers present to tell him what it was – none of them got it right. Then he turned towards me and said: "You tell them what track this is". Looking down at the track, I pointed to three other smudges near it, the four together forming the bounding gait of a hare, and told him: "It is a hare". He looked at me and said: "Ok, now you can continue".

This Shangaan tracker was Wilson Masia, who subsequently became one of the first three South African trackers to be awarded the Master Tracker certificate. In the last 14 years, he has been the only tracker who received the Master Tracker certificate in the Lowveld. On my very first tracker evaluation, I was myself tested by the best Shangaan tracker that I have known in the entire Lowveld. If I got the hare track wrong, he would have sent me back to Johannesburg, and the tracker evaluation system would never have been developed. But the moment he called me to identify that track, after everyone else got it wrong, I knew that he was the best tracker in this group. And the moment he put me to the test and accepted me, he effectively showed the other trackers that they should respect me for what I was trying to do for them. I immediately made Wilson part of the evaluation, asking him to help me conduct the assessment. From that day on, Wilson, together with the far-sighted support and encouragement of Juan Pinto (who later became a Senior Tracker), was part of the tracker evaluation process and together we developed and refined it over the next ten years. I often relied on Wilson's local knowledge of the area and especially his phenomenal lion tracking skills. It took me years to develop my own lion tracking skills to the point where I could conduct a Senior Tracker evaluation without Wilson backing me up. And in the Kalahari I developed a similar relationship with Master Tracker Karel (Vet Piet) Kleinman. The success of the tracker evaluation process does not depend on any one individual – it depends on the relationship developed amongst a community of trackers.

Over the years, we not only refined the evaluation process, but I also found that conducting evaluations is the most effective way to develop your own tracking skills. Every time you go to a new nature reserve or national park, you have no idea who you will be evaluating. There is always the chance that the next Master Tracker could be in the group, so conducting an evaluation keeps you on your toes. You have to have the humility to admit your mistakes when one of the trackers challenges you. The important thing to understand about the tracker evaluations is that it is not about how good you are as an individual or trying to prove yourself. It is a critical peer review process that develops the skills and expertise of all the trackers who participate.

As the initial evaluator I myself can never obtain a tracker certificate, since that would be circular – I cannot give someone a certificate and then ask that person to give me a certificate. My role is simply to act as a catalyst – to initiate and set in motion a process that will give recognition to the skills and expertise of trackers. Once this process is up and running I myself will no longer be needed – to succeed I have to make myself redundant.

We honor Master Trackers not because they are the best individual trackers, but because of the contribution they have made in developing the tracking expertise of others. The first three Master Tracker certificates were awarded at the same time to avoid the perception that any one tracker may be the best. And sharing our knowledge flows in two directions. Sometimes we would find a track that neither Wilson nor myself could identify – but then one of the younger trackers, who was sitting quietly to one side watching what was going on, will discover that the tiny markings in the wet mud at the edge of a puddle of water, were made by the jaws of a wasp collecting mud to build its nest. In this way, the tracker evaluation process helps us all to discover more about tracking. Tracking can be infinitely complex in its subtlety and refinement. You can never learn everything that there is to know about tracking. In this sense, no matter how many years you have been tracking, we are all just beginners.

Louis Liebenberg

Objectives

Over the last twenty years traditional tracking skills in southern Africa have been lost at an alarming rate. The older generation of traditional trackers has grown old without ever receiving any recognition for what they can do. Over the last fifteen years some of the best trackers have passed away, their knowledge and skills irretrievably lost. Meanwhile, the younger generation had no incentive to become expert trackers. Among hunter-gathers, the bow-and-arrow and persistence hunting have been abandoned as the use of dogs and horses were introduced. This has resulted in a decline in tracking skills, since the dogs are used to do the tracking.

In national parks and in the eco-tourism industry there has been an increasing need to verify the abilities of rangers and trackers. Rangers are used to gather data for monitoring wildlife and it is important to validate that the data they gather is accurate. In research projects it has become important to test observer reliability of wildlife biologists (Evans, 2006). The CyberTracker evaluation system has also proved to be a very efficient training tool (Wharton, 2006).

The art of tracking should be recognised as a specialised profession. Trackers can play an important role in research, monitoring, ecotourism, anti-poaching and crime prevention in nature reserves and national parks. Creating employment opportunities for trackers provides economic benefits to local communities. The employment of trackers will also help to retain traditional skills that may otherwise be lost in the near future.

Expert trackers can give valuable assistance to researchers studying animal behavior. The employment of trackers in research requires the highest level of expertise in spoor interpretation. Tracker certificates will help to validate data collected by trackers by providing an objective test of observer reliability.

In order to develop the art of tracking as a modern profession very high standards are maintained. Trackers are graded in order to determine their level of expertise, so that they can be promoted according to different salary scales. This provides an incentive for trackers to develop their skills.

An intensive evaluation covers the fundamental principles of tracking as well as the finer details and sophisticated aspects of tracking. This is done on an individual basis, depending on the level of each candidate. The evaluation is in the form of a practical field test. Rather than pointing out details, each individual is first asked to give his or her own interpretation. Mistakes are corrected and explained continuously throughout the duration of the evaluation. This process identifies the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate in order to develop the potential of each individual in accordance to his or her level of skill.

The apprentice tracker is given a percentage obtained for the evaluation. The progress a tracker makes will depend to a large extent on his or her incentive to practice on an ongoing basis. Someone who is not able to develop his or her own skills will never become an expert tracker. The evaluation is therefore intended to teach trackers how to develop their own skills.

Modules

When a tracker has developed the required level of expertise, he or she will be awarded a certificate. The Tracker Evaluation consists of two parallel sets of modules: Track & Sign Interpretation and Trailing. The following levels can be achieved via the outcome of an assessment.

In the Lower Band:

  • Track & Sign Levels I, II, III and Track & Sign Professional;
  • Trailing Levels I, II, III and Trailing Professional;
  • Tracker Levels I, II, III and Professional Tracker.
  • Tracker Level I require both Track & Sign Level I and Trailing Level I.
  • Tracker Level II requires both Track & Sign Level II and Trailing Level II.
  • Tracker Level III requires both Track & Sign Level III and Trailing Level III.
  • Professional Tracker requires both Track & Sign Professional and Trailing Professional.
  • For example, if the candidate has Track & Sign Level III and Trailing Level I, he or she would qualify for Tracker Level I.

In the Higher Band:

  • Track & Sign Specialist,
  • Trailing Specialist,
  • Senior Tracker.
  • Senior Tracker requires both Track & Sign Specialist and Trailing Specialist.
  • Evaluators are appointed by the CyberTracker Evaluation Standards Committee. In the Evaluator Band the following levels are recognised: Assistant Evaluator, Evaluator and External Evaluator.
  • The Master Tracker certificate is an honorary merit award, and cannot be achieved via an evaluation.

Track & Sign Interpretation Evaluation

Definitions of Points Awarded for Spoor

In the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation the points scored for specific tracks are defined as 1-Point, 2-Point, 3-Point, Bonus Point spoor, or spoor that is Not Allowed. These depend on the species, condition of track and/or the context.

For each species, the points awarded are defined according to the following Categories, as listed in Appendix A: Guidelines for Spoor Ratings.

Category A: Clear, complete, typical, no similar species:

The margins of the sign are clear and distinct and the track is complete in its typical form.

The sign is typical in every way: It is not exceptionally small (e.g. young animal), it is not abnormally large, and toes and claws that usually do not show have not marked in the track. There are no similar species present in the area.

Category B: Unclear, incomplete, typical, no similar species:

The margins of the sign are unclear and indistinct. The sign is slightly incomplete in its typical form. The sign is typical in every way - It is not exceptionally small (e.g. young animal), it is not abnormally large, and toes and claws that usually do not show have not marked in the track. There are no similar species present in the area.

Category C: Obscure, partial, atypical, similar species:

The margins of the sign are obscure and indistinct and/or the sign is mostly incomplete and/or the sign is not in its typical form and/or there are similar species in the area with which it could be confused.

For example, a 1-Point spoor is spoor of medium to large species that are clearly defined and therefore unmistakable. 2-Point spoor includes spoor of small species, such as mongoose species, and spoor that are partially obliterated or indistinct due to soft sand or hard substrate. 2-Point spoor requires an ability to interpret the way the spoor was formed in difficult substrate and are therefore not easy to identify. 3-Point spoor includes fractions of footprints and very indistinct spoor that requires considerable experience to identify, or that of a very rare animal in the area.

Bonus Points and Spoor Not Allowed

Spoor interpretation can be infinitely complex – it is possible to find spoor that even the best trackers may not be able to interpret correctly.

A Bonus Point spoor is awarded for a very small sign or footprint that is distorted/incomplete or very unclear, or made by an extremely rare animal in the area. It might also be spoor indicating behaviour that requires highly specialized knowledge to interpret.

If the Evaluator and the External Evaluator cannot agree on the correct interpretation of a spoor, then the spoor is Not Allowed to be tested.

Awarding of Points for Track & Sign Evaluation

In the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation the candidate is awarded one positive point (+) for correct interpretation of a 1-Point spoor, or three negative points (xxx) for a mistake on a 1-Point spoor. Two positive points (++) are awarded for correct interpretation of a 2-Point spoor, or two negative points (xx) for a mistake on 2-Point spoor. Three positive points (+++) are awarded for correct interpretation of a 3-Point spoor, or one negative point (x) for a mistake on a 3-Point spoor.

The total number of correct positive points (+) are divided by the sum of all the correct positive points (+) and the incorrect negative points (x) and expressed as a percentage.

Lower Band Track & Sign Evaluation

Not more than 20% of spoor tested may be 1-Point spoor and not more than 20% may be 3-Point spoor. No Bonus Point spoor questions should be asked in the evaluation. The first seven 1-Point scoring spoors, twenty-one 2-Point scoring spoors, and seven 3-Point scoring spoors will count, and percentage should be rounded off to the nearest 0,1 (one tenth of a percentage point).

The same spoor (species, specific sign, and rating) will score when asked for the first time, and a second time if the tracker got it wrong the first time, or even a third time if it was called wrong on the second time. It will not be a scoring spoor the second time if the tracker correctly identified it both times. It will also be a scoring spoor if the species is the same, but either the specific sign, or the rating, or both are different than the first time.

Some of the best trackers often get the very first question wrong due to nervousness, which is not a reflection on their knowledge. To give trackers the opportunity to gain confidence, the first three questions may be ignored. It will score if answered correct, but will not be penalised if wrong.

The Lower Band Track & Sign Interpretation Evaluation must be conducted by an Evaluator, or by an External Evaluator, or by a Senior Tracker/Track & Sign Specialist and Assistant Evaluator team who are familiar with the evaluation standards.

Track & Sign I Certificate

The Track & Sign I candidate must be able to interpret the spoor of small to large animals and must have a fair knowledge of animal behaviour. To qualify for the Track & Sign I certificate the candidate must obtain 70% for the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation for at least 35 spoor. The candidate shall most likely not achieve this level without at least one-year experience in the field.

Track & Sign II Certificate

The Track & Sign II candidate must be able to interpret the spoor of small to large animals and must have a good knowledge of animal behaviour. To qualify for the Track & Sign II certificate the candidate must obtain 80% for the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation for at least 35 signs. The candidate shall most likely not achieve this level without at least two years experience in the field.

Track & Sign III Certificate

The Track & Sign III candidate must be able to interpret the spoor of small to large animals and must have a very good knowledge of animal behaviour. To qualify for the Track & Sign III certificate the candidate must obtain 90% for the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation for at least 35 signs. The candidate shall most likely not achieve this level without at least three years experience in the field.

Track & Sign Professional Certificate

The Track & Sign Professional candidate must be able to interpret the spoor of small to large animals and must have an excellent knowledge of animal behaviour. To qualify for the Track & Sign Professional certificate the candidate must obtain 100% for the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation for at least 35 signs. The candidate shall most likely not achieve this level without at least four years experience in the field. A Track & Sign Professional certificate qualifies a candidate to attend a Track & Sign Specialist Evaluation and can train other trackers in Track & Sign Interpretation.

Trailing Evaluation

The Trailing evaluation is done in varying terrain on a human spoor or an animal such as a hoofed animal, rhino or lion. Varying terrain includes areas of hard substrate or dense vegetation where tracks may often not be visible for at least ten meters and sometimes for up to 50 meters or more. The minimum duration of a trail for evaluation purposes is 30 minutes. Five aspects are evaluated.

(1) Spoor recognition is the ability of the tracker to recognise and follow spoor at a reasonably good rate. Indicators may include:

  • Not looking down in front of feet, but looking for signs five to ten metres ahead.
  • Moving at a steady rate, not in stop-start manner.
  • Recognising signs in grass or hard substrate.
  • Recognising when there are no signs when no longer on trail.
  • Ability to recognise signs after losing spoor.

(2) Spoor anticipation is the ability of the tracker to anticipate where the animal was going and therefore where he or she will find the spoor further ahead. Indicators may include:

  • Looking well ahead, reading the terrain to look for most probably route.
  • Interpret behaviour from tracks.
  • Using knowledge of terrain (water, dongas, clearings) to predict movements of animal.
  • Not over cautious (too slow), but not too confident (too fast).
  • Anticipate where too find tracks after losing spoor.

(3) Anticipation of dangerous situations is the ability of the tracker to read the terrain and be able to anticipate situations that may be dangerous. Indicators may include:

  • Awareness of wind direction.
  • Knowledge of behaviour, e.g. animals resting at mid-day.
  • Animal behaviour indicating danger.
  • Avoid danger be leaving the spoor and picking up the spoor further ahead.
  • Determine the position of dangerous animals without putting him/herself at risk.

(4) Alertness is the ability of the tracker to spot animals before the animals spot him or her. Indicators may include:

  • Looking well ahead for signs of danger.
  • Stop to listen when necessary.
  • Warning signs, alarm calls and smells.
  • Signs of other animals.
  • Seeing the animal before it sees the tracker.

(5) Stealth is the ability to approach animals without being detected by the animals, nor being a disturbance in the bush. Indicators may include:

  • Minimise noise levels (walking, talking vs. hand signals, etc.).
  • Low impact on other animals.
  • Use of cover to approach animal and exit route.
  • Appropriate proximity to animal (close enough to observe, but not too close).
  • Animal unaware of tracker.

In each of these aspects the tracker will be given points from 0 to 10: Not Yet Competent (0 - 6 points); Fair (7 points); Good (8 points); Very Good (9 points); Excellent (10 points). The total number of points scored would be expressed as a percentage for Trailing. Depending on circumstances, some indicators may be not applicable (N/A). The total score would be divided by the number of aspects scored multiplied by 10 to obtain a percentage.

To obtain realistic scores points are deducted for mistakes, rather than 'giving' points for level of skill. Points deducted would give the candidate an indication of how to improve his or her tracking skills.

If the tracker struggles to get started due to nervousness, the first five minutes will not be used to penalize the tracker.

The Lower Band Trailing Evaluation must be conducted by an Evaluator, or by an External Evaluator, or by a Senior Tracker/Trailing Specialist and Assistant Evaluator team, who are familiar with the evaluation standards.

Trailing I Certificate

The Trailing I candidate must be a fair systematic tracker and be able to track humans or large animals. He or she must have a fair ability to judge the age of spoor. To qualify for the Trailing I certificate the candidate must obtain 70% for the Trailing of a human or large mammal spoor. The candidate will most likely not achieve this level without at least one year experience in the field.

Trailing II Certificate

The Trailing II candidate must be a good systematic tracker and be able to track large animals. He or she must have a fair ability to judge the age of spoor. To qualify for the Trailing II certificate the candidate must obtain 80% for the Trailing of a large mammal spoor. The candidate will most likely not achieve this level without at least two years experience in the field.

Trailing III Certificate

The Trailing III candidate must be a good systematic tracker and be able to track medium or large animals. He or she must have a fair ability to judge the age of spoor. To qualify for the Trailing III certificate the candidate must obtain 90% for the Trailing of a medium or large mammal spoor. The candidate will most likely not achieve this level without at least three years experience in the field.

Trailing Professional Certificate

The Trailing Professional candidate must be a good systematic tracker and be able to track medium or large animals. He or she must have a fair ability to judge the age of spoor. To qualify for the Trailing Professional certificate the candidate must obtain 100% for the Trailing of a medium or large mammal spoor. The candidate will most likely not achieve this level without at least four years experience in the field. A Trailing Professional certificate qualifies a candidate to attend a Trailing Specialist Evaluation and can train other trackers on trailing.

Tracker Certificates

Tracker I Certificate

The Tracker I must be able to interpret the spoor of small to large animals and must have a fair knowledge of animal behaviour. He or she must be a fair systematic tracker and be able to track humans or large mammals. He or she must have a fair ability to judge the age of spoor. The Tracker I will be qualified to be employed in ecotourism and anti-poaching. To qualify for the Tracker I certificate the candidate must obtain 70% for the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation for at least 35 signs and at least 70% for the Trailing of a human or a large mammal spoor. The candidate will most likely not achieve this level without at least one year experience in the field.

Tracker II Certificate

The Tracker II must be able to interpret the spoor of small to large animals and must have a fair knowledge of animal behaviour. He or she must be able to make empirical inductive-deductive interpretation of spoor and be a good systematic tracker. He or she must be able to track large animals. He or she must have a fair ability to judge the age of spoor. The Tracker will be qualified to be employed in ecotourism and anti-poaching. To qualify for the Tracker el II certificate the candidate must obtain 80% for the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation for at least 35 signs and at least 80% for the Trailing of a large animal that is not easy to follow. The candidate will most likely not achieve this level without at least two years experience in the field.

Tracker III Certificate

The Tracker III must be able to interpret the spoor of small to large animals and must have a fair knowledge of animal behaviour. He or she must be able to make empirical inductive-deductive interpretation of spoor and be a good systematic tracker. He or she must be able to track medium to large animals. He or she must have a fair ability to judge the age of spoor. The Tracker will be qualified to be employed in ecotourism and anti-poaching. To qualify for the Tracker III certificate the candidate must obtain 90% for the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation for at least 35 signs and at least 90% for the Trailing of a medium to large animal that is not easy to follow. The candidate will most likely not achieve this level without at least three years experience in the field.

Professional Tracker Certificate

The Professional Tracker must be able to interpret the spoor of small to large animals and must have a fair knowledge of animal behaviour. He or she must be able to make empirical inductive-deductive interpretation of spoor and be a good systematic tracker. He or she must be able to track medium to large animals. He or she must have a fair ability to judge the age of spoor. The Professional Tracker will be qualified to be employed in eco-tourism and anti-poaching. To qualify for the Professional Tracker certificate the candidate must obtain 100% for the Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation for at least 35 signs and at least 100% for the Trailing of a medium to large animal that is not easy to follow. The candidate will most likely not achieve this level without at least four years experience in the field. A Professional Tracker certificate qualifies a candidate to attend a Senior Tracker Evaluation and can train other trackers.

The Senior Tracker

The Senior Tracker certificate is the highest certificate that can be earned by means of a practical evaluation. The qualities that define the Senior Tracker are well-defined and can be tested. The Senior Tracker evaluation aims to test practical skills to the limit. Tracks and signs tested include not only a wide range of species, but the individual tracks may be very subtle and difficult to interpret. As a practical evaluation it places the candidate in a real-world situation that cannot be tested in a class room on the basis of book work.

The evaluation is very rigorous, testing not only skill and knowledge, but also concentration, which is important in tracking in difficult circumstances. Because so much is at stake with each and every question, with little room for error, candidates often find it quite intimidating – some literally shake with nerves. The psychological pressure, however, does show that those who pass are able and ready to deal with the most difficult situations trackers can find themselves in. Things do not always go according to plan. When you are tracking lion and something goes wrong, the tracker needs to have the presence of mind to deal with the situation.

The Senior evaluation also offer the best trackers an opportunity to test and improve their skills through peer review. When working in isolation it is difficult to get an objective measure of whether or not your skills are improving. Interacting with other trackers, they engage in critical debate. This critical interaction is vital in developing the higher levels of tracking.

Even evaluators benefit from interaction with those they teach, since they expose themselves to criticism if they make mistakes. Since the evaluator works with a group of trackers, it increases the chances that one of them will point out a mistake. Being tested helps you to keep perspective and humility. Conducting tracker evaluations may well be the best way to improve your tracking skills. Conducting Senior evaluations on a regular basis exposes the evaluator to the best trackers, thereby improving and refining the skills of the evaluator as well.

Higher Band Track & Sign Specialist Evaluation

In the Track & Sign Specialist evaluation the candidate is awarded two positive points (++) for correct interpretation of a 2-Point spoor, or two negative points (xx) for a mistake on 2-Point spoor. Three positive points (+++) are awarded for correct interpretation of 3-Point spoor, or one negative point (x) for a mistake on 3-Point spoor. No penalty is deducted for an incorrect answer on a Bonus Point question, but three correctly answered Bonus Point spoor will cancel the penalty of one incorrect 3-Point spoor. At least fifty 3-Point spoor will be asked, with not more than ten 2-Point spoor. No 1-Point spoor will be asked. In addition to this, seven Bonus Point spoor will be asked. Three Bonus Point spoors cannot cancel an incorrect 2-Point spoor - only an incorrect 3-Point spoor.

The same (species, specific sign, and rating) spoor will score when asked for the first time, and a second time if the tracker got it wrong the second time. It will not be a scoring spoor the second time if the tracker correctly identified it both times. It will also be a scoring spoor if the species is the same, but either the specific sign, or the rating, or both are different than the first time.

Some of the best trackers often get the very first question wrong due to nervousness, which is not a reflection on their knowledge. To give trackers the opportunity to gain confidence, the first three questions may be ignored. It will score if answered correct, but will not penalise if wrong.

The Higher Band Track & Sign Specialist Evaluation must be conducted by an Evaluator and an External Evaluator who are familiar with the evaluation standards.

Track & Sign Specialist Certificate

The Track & Sign Specialist must be able to interpret the spoor of all animals, including small species, and be able to distinguish the spoor of male and female animals for larger species. He or she must have a very good knowledge of animal behaviour. He or she must be able to make hypothetical-deductive interpretations of spoor. The Track & Sign Specialist must obtain 100% for the Track & Sign Specialist evaluation for at least 50 very difficult signs. The Track & Sign Interpretation evaluation for Track & Sign Specialist should not only be more rigorous, but also put greater emphasis on interpretation of animal behaviour from tracks and signs. The Track & Sign Specialist must also pass an oral test on animal behaviour, which will focus on his or her depth of knowledge. It is not possible to test the full extent of a tracker's knowledge, but indications of very specialised knowledge imply that the tracker has developed a depth of expertise. The candidate shall most likely not achieve this level without at least five years experience in the field, which in itself implies that the tracker probably has accumulated a fairly broad range of expertise.

Higher Band Trailing Specialist Evaluation

The Trailing Specialist evaluation is done in varying terrain on an animal that is difficult to follow, such as leopard or lion. The same five aspects are evaluated as for the Lower Band.

If the tracker struggles to get started due to nervousness, the first five minutes will not be used to penalize the tracker.

The Higher Band Trailing Specialist Evaluation must be conducted by an Evaluator and an External Evaluator who are familiar with the evaluation standards.

Trailing Specialist Certificate

The Trailing Specialist must be a good Speculative Tracker. This includes the ability to predict where spoor will be found beyond the immediate area, i.e. beyond the range of Spoor anticipation in the immediate vicinity ahead of the tracker. He or she must be good at judging the age of spoor and must be able to detect signs of stress or the location of carcasses from spoor. The Trailing Specialist must obtain 100% for the Trailing of a difficult animal spoor (such as a leopard or a lion spoor). The Trailing Specialist must also pass an oral test on animal behaviour, which will focus on his or her depth of knowledge. It is not possible to test the full extent of a tracker's knowledge, but indications of highly specialised knowledge imply that the tracker has developed a depth of expertise. The candidate will most likely not achieve this level without at least five years experience in the field, which in itself implies that the tracker probably has accumulated a fairly broad range of expertise.

Senior Tracker Certificate

The Senior Tracker must be able to interpret the spoor of all animals, including small species, and be able to distinguish the spoor of male and female animals for larger species. He or she must have a very good knowledge of animal behaviour. He or she must be able to make hypothetical-deductive interpretations of spoor and be a good speculative tracker. He or she must be good at judging the age of spoor and must be able to detect signs of stress or the location of carcasses from spoor. The Senior Tracker will be qualified to train new trackers and be employed to collect scientific spoor data.

The Senior Tracker must obtain 100% for the Track & Sign Specialist evaluation and for the Trailing Specialist evaluation.

Evaluators

Initial Evaluator

The original standards for the evaluation of trackers have been set by Louis Liebenberg, who serves as an External Evaluator, and is the author of The Art of Tracking: The Origin of Science, and A Field Guide to the Animal Tracks of Southern Africa.

Evaluation Standards Committee

The CyberTracker Evaluation Standards Committee will maintain the standards for the evaluation of trackers. The Committee may from time to time revise the evaluation standards and criteria in order to refine and improve the evaluations. The Committee will, in consultation with other Evaluators, appoint new Evaluators and External Evaluators. The Committee may appoint Evaluators and/or External Evaluators to serve on the Evaluation Standards Committee. The Committee has the authority to suspend an Evaluator's accreditation if the Evaluator fails to update his or her understanding of revised evaluation criteria. The Committee has the authority to suspend or revoke an Evaluator's accreditation if the Evaluator did not conduct a minimum of three evaluations in a three-year cycle.

The Committee also has the authority to suspend or revoke an Evaluator's accreditation if the Evaluator fails to maintain the standards set by the Committee, undermine the standards or bring the standards into disrepute. Evaluators may be suspended if they fail to maintain the Principles of Ethics, External Evaluations, Good Practice and Peer Review.

The CyberTracker Evaluation Standards Committee also has the authority to revoke any certificate issued if a tracker has been found guilty of a criminal offense or serious misconduct that brings the CyberTracker Evaluation standards into disrepute.

Only members of the Evaluation Standards Committee can nominate potential Assistant Evaluators, Evaluators and External Evaluators. Before a nominee can be appointed, he or she must undergo thorough training in the evaluation process, pass a rigorous Evaluators Evaluation by an Evaluator and an External Evaluator that will include personal interviews, and must be deemed fit for the appointment, before a certificate will be issued.

Objective Reference

An essential part of the tracker evaluation process is the use of an accurate field guide to animal tracks and signs that provides an objective reference. The field guide serves to provide an objective reference to demonstrate to the candidates that the interpretation of the evaluator is correct. It also provides a reference to explain the details of tracks and signs to candidates. Field guides used for evaluations must be approved by the Evaluation Standards Committee.

External Evaluator

The External Evaluator must be a Senior Tracker and must be familiar with evaluation standards in different ecological areas. The role of the External Evaluator is to ensure that consistent standards and fairness are maintained in different areas and over time. This requires both an understanding of local tracking conditions and how standards would translate to different tracking conditions in other areas. The External Evaluator is appointed by the Evaluations Standards Committee.

Evaluator

The Evaluator must hold a Track & Sign Specialist, Trailing Specialist or Senior Tracker certificate, and must have a highly specialised knowledge of the local terrain. Only the Senior Tracker Evaluator can conduct both Track & Sign Interpretation and Trailing Evaluations. The holder of a specialist certificate is only allowed to evaluate that specific field. The Evaluator is appointed by the Evaluations Standards Committee.

Assistant Evaluator

If a Senior Tracker or a Master Tracker cannot read or write, he or she may be assisted in conducting an evaluation by an Assistant Evaluator. To be appointed as an Assistant Evaluator the nominee must hold a Track & Sign Professional, Trailing Professional or Professional Tracker certificate, with a minimum of three years experience as a tracker, and must have successfully completed the Evaluator's training and evaluation. The Assistant Evaluator Evaluation must be conducted by an Evaluator and an External Evaluator. The Assistant Evaluator is appointed by the Evaluations Standards Committee.

Tracker Evaluations in New Regions

A New Region is an area where there had never been CyberTracker evaluations and/or there is no one with the skill in that specific environment who can evaluate trackers at the CyberTracker certificate standard. To introduce tracker evaluations into a New Region, the CyberTracker Kudu certificates were created as a start-up mechanism to fast-track the training and evaluation of trackers.

CyberTracker Kudu Certificates

The introduction of the Kudu Certificate is based on the observation that the CyberTracker Evaluation PROCESS is in itself a very efficient way to improve tracking skills over time. This has been confirmed by the papers produced by Jonah Evans and Ciël Wharton. Furthermore, current standards are much more rigorous than what they were when the process was first started in 1994 by Louis Liebenberg.

The Leopard certificates would maintain the high standards CyberTracker have established. The leopard is one of the most difficult animals to track, which is why it was chosen for the certificate in the first place.

The Kudu represents a new initiative that has not yet achieved CyberTracker's required standards. The Kudu Chase represents the "origin of hunting" symbolic of a "new beginning". The kudu is also easier to track than a leopard. The Kudu certificates are to be issued in New Regions that have not yet fulfilled the CyberTracker STANDARDS, but will follow the same evaluation methods. By allowing this PROCESS, the standards will improve over time in the new area until it reaches the Leopard certification standards.

While the Leopard certificates represent rigorous STANDARDS, the Kudu certificates will represent a PROCESS that will eventually reach those standards.

Kudu certificates will identify candidates as the best potential trackers in a particular area. Without Kudu certificates they may have nothing, since CyberTracker may not have the capacity to issue Leopard certificates in that region. It will help to identify the best potential trackers in an area where there may be no other way for employers to know who the best trackers are.

It must be emphasized that this is a start-up mechanism to fast-track the tracker certification process, but that standards will not be compromised. Only once a Leopard Specialist/Senior Evaluator certificate had been issued can the system change over to the Leopard certification.

The Kudu Certificate Initial Evaluator

The appointment of a Kudu Certificate Initial Evaluator is at the discretion of the CyberTracker Evaluation Standards Committee. A potential Kudu Certificate Initial Evaluator will be identified by an External Evaluator who will make a recommendation to the CyberTracker Evaluation Standards Committee.

This person should:

• Hold at least a CyberTracker Level III Leopard Certificate in the component that will be developed.

• Have a good understanding of the evaluation process.

• Be able to develop, or be in the process of developing accurate resources in the form of a field guide and/or photo library, museum collection etc. of that region.

• Be recognized by fellow trackers in the region and/or by CyberTracker.

• Show a commitment to the furthering of tracking skills.

• Be a person of good integrity and good character.

Once approved by the CyberTracker Evaluation Standards Committee, a Kudu Certificate Initial Evaluator certificate will be issued.

Only Kudu Level I, II and III certificates will be issued by the Kudu Certificate Initial Evaluator. Evaluations should follow the Lower Band Evaluation format.

Phasing out Kudu Certificates

The Kudu Certificate Initial Evaluator should strive to qualify as a Specialist on the CyberTracker Leopard Certificate standards as soon as possible. A Track & Sign Specialist evaluation (Leopard Certificate) should be conducted in the region by an External Evaluator and an Evaluator not only on the Kudu Certificate Initial Evaluator's field skills, but also the relevance of the resources created by the tracker. It will also be beneficial if the Kudu Certificate Initial Evaluator can qualify as Track & Sign Specialist in an existing Leopard Certificate region. A Trailing Specialist can be evaluated as that in either an Existing Region or in the New Region by the normal team of Evaluators.

Once the Kudu Certificate Initial Evaluator has qualified as a Specialist or Senior Tracker Evaluator, the issuing of Kudu Certificates should be discontinued and only Leopard certificates should be issued. The region would be regarded as an Existing Region and no longer as a New Region.

 

Principles

Maintaining overall standards are guided by a set of Principles which all Evaluators and External Evaluators must follow.

Ethics

Conventional classroom-based examinations are easy to validate, since the questions and answers are documented on paper and can therefore be subjected to external evaluations after the tests have been conducted. Tracker evaluations are practical field tests and cannot be conducted in a classroom with pen and paper. The evaluation depends on the observations of the Evaluator who records the evaluation on paper. But once the evaluation is completed, it is impossible to conduct an external evaluation afterwards to determine whether or not the Evaluator maintained the required standards.

The CyberTracker Evaluation system depends on collaboration based on mutual respect, integrity, honesty and humility. These values are essential in maintaining the integrity of the CyberTracker Evaluation system.

Principle of External Evaluations

Senior Trackers play a critical role in the development and maintenance of standards. Senior Trackers are responsible for training new trackers. In addition, Senior Tracker Evaluators maintain the standards on which the CyberTracker evaluation system depends.

The only way to evaluate whether standards are maintained is to have an External Evaluator present in the field while the evaluation is being conducted. For Senior Tracker certificates, the evaluation must be conducted by an Evaluator and an External Evaluator.

Financial, commercial and marketing pressure can result in a biased evaluation. To maintain an objective and unbiased evaluation, the External Evaluator should therefore not be part of the organization or company who did the training or who is conducting the evaluation. While External Evaluators may be Associates of the same organization that strives to maintain the same standards, they should be financially independent of the Evaluators. For example all Evaluators and External Evaluators are associated with the CyberTracker Evaluation Standards, but CyberTracker Evaluators may work at independent tracker training centers and are therefore financially independent of each other.

Principle of Good Practice

For Tracker Levels I, II, III and Professional Tracker only one Evaluator is required. However, it is good practice that the organization or company who does the training of trackers employ an Evaluator who comes in from outside to ensure an objective and unbiased evaluation. This has been the case in most evaluations conducted so far.

If, however, the training institution is too remote from available evaluators, and employing an Evaluator from outside is logistically too costly, a training institution may conduct their own evaluations for Tracker Levels I, II, III and Professional Tracker (but not for Senior Tracker certificates). Such institutions should make an effort to employ outside Evaluators as often as possible to maintain standards (at least once a year).

If a complaint is received that the required standards are not maintained, the CyberTracker Evaluation Standards Committee reserves the right to investigate such a complaint and suspend or revoke CyberTracker accreditation. All interested parties will be notified.

Principle of Peer Review

Evaluators and External Evaluators are encouraged to attend Senior Tracker Evaluations as often as possible as unpaid observers in order to conduct voluntary peer review of each other's tracking skills and evaluation standards. This process helps to improve overall standards to the benefit of the tracking community as a whole.

Only Evaluators who have made an effort to attend Senior Tracker evaluations in order to participate in a process of peer review will be appointed as External Evaluators.

Protocols

Protocols: Track & Sign Interpretation Evaluations

Trackers are allowed unrestricted access to the trail up to a maximum of 10 meters beyond the question as long as they stay outside the clearly marked question zone. Up to 5 questions can be asked in one question zone at the same time. A maximum of 2 trackers can be called to the question zone at the same time, as long as there is no communication between the trackers. Trackers are not allowed to use any mechanical tool or equipment to measure a track or sign, and no reference material is allowed. Trackers are not allowed to touch or disturbed any thing inside the question zone. Trackers are not allowed to communicate their answers to the evaluator in such a way that the other trackers being evaluated will become aware of the answer given. Once the tracker had answered and moved away from the evaluator, the answer given is final, and cannot be changed. The tracker is allowed enough time to examine the evidence before he or she gives an answer. The evaluator must indicate the question to all the trackers in the same way, to ensure fairness.

If the tracker is not sure of the correct English, or cannot answer the question in English, he or she may use a local language. It is up to the evaluator to verify the answer given in the local language. One of the other trackers who had already answered can be used as translator. It is important that the answer gets translated, and that the two trackers don't enter into a long discussion that might throw the answer in question.

If any of the trackers answered a question wrong, the evaluator must explain and clearly point out the evidence to the answer. If a dispute develops between the evaluator and the tracker being evaluated after the evaluator had explain and clearly pointed out the evidence, and none of the trackers being evaluated could see and understand the evidence, the question may, at the discretion of the Evaluator, be ignored and not scored. It is then taken out of the evaluation across the board, and will not score for any tracker in the group.

If a tracker deliberately, or continuously disturb the question zone, or gives an answer in such a way that the other trackers hear his or her answer, or continuously takes more time than what is required on average, or smokes where the smoke can be smelt by the other trackers, or is in any way disruptive to the evaluation process, the evaluator must warn the individual once in front of the other trackers. If the individual continues with the behaviour, the individual must be removed from the evaluation.

No sign may be disturbed or altered by the evaluator, but only a portion of the sign may be circled in the case of an extremely difficult question. If the rating of a sign changes during the evaluation, due to changing light or other environmental on human factors, the question must be taken out of the evaluation. No unreasonably difficult questions may be asked.

Protocols: Track & Sign Specialist Evaluations

Trackers can be denied unrestricted access to the trail beyond the question only if it will impact on the rating of that particular spoor, or if it will impact on the next question zone. Trackers must stay outside the clearly marked question zone. Access can be restricted to a single sign only on extremely difficult questions. Up to 5 questions can be asked in one question zone at the same time. Only one tracker is allowed at the question zone at a time. Trackers are not allowed to use any mechanical tool or equipment to measure a track or sign, and no reference material is allowed. Trackers are not allowed to touch or disturbed any thing inside the question zone. Trackers are not allowed to communicate their answers to the evaluator in such a way that the other trackers being evaluated will become aware of the answer given. Once the tracker had answered and moved away from the evaluator, the answer given is final, and cannot be changed. The tracker is allowed enough time to examine the evidence before he or she gives an answer. The evaluator must indicate the question to all the trackers in the same way, to ensure fairness.

If the tracker is not sure of the correct English, or cannot answer the question in English, he or she may use a local language. It is up to the evaluator to verify the answer given in the local language. One of the other trackers who had already answered can be used as translator. It is important that the answer gets translated, and that the two trackers don't enter into a long discussion that might throw the answer in question.

If any of the trackers answered a question wrong, the evaluator must explain and clearly point out the evidence to the answer. If a dispute develops between the evaluator and the tracker being evaluated after the evaluator had explain and clearly pointed out the evidence, and non of the trackers being evaluated could see and understand the evidence, the question may, at the discretion of the Evaluator, be ignored and not scored. It is then taken out of the evaluation across the board, and will not score for any tracker in the group.

If a tracker deliberately, or continuously disturb the question zone, or gives an answer in such a way that the other trackers hear his or her answer, or continuously takes more time than what is required on average, or smokes where the smoke can be smelt by the other trackers, or is in any way disruptive to the evaluation process, the evaluator must warn the individual once in front of the other trackers. If the individual continues with the behaviour, the individual must be removed from the evaluation.

No sign may be disturbed or altered by the evaluator when it is a difficult or very difficult question, but only a portion of the sign may be circled in the case of an extremely difficult question. If the rating of a sign changes during the evaluation, due to changing light or other environmental on human factors, the question must be taken out of the evaluation. No unreasonably difficult questions may be asked.

If a tracker comes up with a far more detailed interpretation than what both the Evaluator and External Evaluator read in the sign, and both evaluators are 100% convinced that that is the true and accurate interpretation of the sign, the tracker, at the discretion of the External Evaluator, can be awarded an additional 1-Point (+), or even 2-Point (++) on that question. A maximum of two 1-Point (+) points can be awarded to a tracker during an evaluation. A question scored in this way as a 3-Point Plus One (+) or a 3-Point Plus Two (++) will then score as one of the seven Bonus Point questions for that individual.

The rating of a spoor should be agreed upon by both Evaluator and External Evaluator before it is asked, but should be monitored through out to ensure that the rating doesn't change due to changing light or physical damage. Not Allowed spoor (if the two evaluators do not agree on the sign) questions may be asked.

If a tracker scores 100% on the 2-Point and 3-Point questions, and have at least three of the Bonus Point questions correct, he or she would have passed the evaluation with 100% Plus, and it must be recorded as such on the Cyber Tracker data base.

Protocols: Trailing Evaluations

Following natural routes, a human trail (for Trailing I) must be laid by two persons wearing shoes, walking for 30 minutes at a moderate pace. At the end of the trail they must be waiting (not hiding) in a logic shelter (e.g. under a tree or under an overhang). They are to keep quiet at all times.

If the tracker is put on an animal trail, the trail must be followed for at least 30 minutes before it will constitute an evaluation. A tracker cannot obtain a score of 80% or higher if the entire trail was easy. If some sections of the trail was difficult, but at no stage very difficult, the score cannot be 90% or above. It is only on a trail that includes easy, difficult and very difficult sections that a score of 90% and more can be achieved.

At least 16 of the 25 aspects must be scored during a trail to constitute an evaluation for Trailing I, II or III, and at least 20 for Trailing Professional.

If a group of trackers are evaluated on a Trailing Evaluation, two trackers can follow the same trail, one as primary tracker, and the other as secondary tracker behind the evaluator. The Evaluator can at any stage of the trail ask the secondary tracker questions about the trail, or swap the two trackers around, or have both trackers in front of him. The secondary tracker can also be called in to assist the primary tracker when he or she lost the trail. The performance of a tracker when functioning as secondary tracker will also be considered when he or she is scored.

If not enough evidence was presented on a trail to accurately score a primary tracker, he or she must be put on the next available trail as primary tracker until enough evidence is gathered. This might be after only a short section of the trail that can then be handed over to the secondary tracker. It might not be necessary to put the tracker on a second trail if a major error was made on easy sections of the trail.

It is up to the discretion of the Evaluator to decide if a trail is to be followed or not, or when to terminate the trail, and not that of the tracker.

Protocols: Trailing Specialist Evaluations

When the tracker is put on a trail, the trail must be followed for at least one hour before it will constitute an evaluation. The trail must include difficult and very difficult sections but easy sections are not needed.

At least 23 of the 25 aspects must be scored during a trail to constitute an evaluation, and no errors on the difficult and very difficult sections are allowed. The tracker must score 100%.

If a group of trackers are evaluated on a Trailing Specialist Evaluation, only one tracker is put on a trail due to the intense concentration required. The Evaluators can assist the tracker in extremely difficult sections of the trail. If not enough evidence was presented on a trail to accurately score the tracker, the second tracker (according to a predetermined order) must be put on the next available trail, and the first tracker must wait his or her turn. This might be changed, due to time restraints, to deal with an individual first (even if it takes more than one trail) at the discretion of the External Evaluator in consultation with the Evaluator and the trackers.

It is up to the discretion of the Evaluators to decide if a trail is to be followed or not, or when to terminate the trail, and not that of the tracker. If a tracker's ability on at least three of the aspects is exceptional (a 10+; above what is expected of a Trailing Specialist) and all 25 aspects had been scored, he or she would have passed the evaluation with 100% plus, and it must be recorded as such on the Cyber Tracker data base.

Novel Contributions

If a tracker comes up with what seems to be a novel contribution, or new ideas on either track & sign interpretation or trailing during an evaluation, it will not count in any way toward the outcome of that evaluation. The Evaluator must however record it accurately and submit it to the Evaluations Standards Committee for validation and further testing. If it was indeed a novel contribution, the tracker must be credited with it. This will then be taken into consideration if the tracker gets nominated for a merit award.

Safety

If the candidate does anything that endangers his or her own life or the life of someone else, the Evaluator will terminate the evaluation, without further scoring the evaluation, irrespective of the tracker's performance.

Evaluator's Discretion

The amount of discretion allowed is bound by this document. The Evaluator may not implement new ideas, techniques or protocols during an evaluation. This must first be approved by the Evaluation Standards Committee and published on the CyberTracker website before it can be implemented in an evaluation.

The Master Tracker

While the Senior Tracker must attain a high level of skill and refinement, the Master Tracker is the exceptional individual who represents the best qualities a tracker can develop over an extensive period of experience. The Master Tracker certificate is not something that can be earned by means of an evaluation – rather it is an honorary award that gives recognition for a lifetime of exceptional work. The qualities of the Master Tracker have been inspired by the best traditional hunters who until recently hunted with the poison bow-and-arrow.

The Master Tracker must have an excellent knowledge of animal behavior and be capable of a highly refined interpretation of spoor in difficult terrain. He or she must have originality and creative insight and must have well-developed intuitive abilities. Qualities of the Master Tracker include: Exceptional skill, extensive knowledge and experience, wisdom, humility, creativity, insight, intuition, curiosity, the ability to make an original contribution to our understanding of tracking and/or knowledge of animal behavior.

In traditional hunter-gatherer communities, the best hunters were expected to show humility. Individuals who boasted about their skills or achievements were quickly put in their place. This helped to avoid jealousy in small communities that depended on cooperation and social harmony. Humility in tracking is more than a social necessity. The Master Tracker has acquired the wisdom to know that even the best trackers can sometimes be wrong and make mistakes. Scientific understanding is fundamentally fallible. This is why Karl Popper (1959) proposed that falsifiability should be the criteria for whether a hypothesis is scientific or not. They are quick to admit their own mistakes or if they do not know something and recognize when someone else is right. Lack of humility results in an inability to recognize mistakes. Genuine humility means that the true Master Tracker would not expect to be awarded the Master Tracker certificate. Conversely, trackers who expect to be awarded the Master Tracker certificate have not acquired the wisdom and humility that is characteristic of the Master Tracker.

One of the characteristic qualities of the Master Tracker is an innate curiosity about the smallest details in nature.

!Nam!kabe once stopped me and pointed to a little bee and told me: "This little bee feeds on that little flower" – making a species specific connection between an insect and a plant. One day we found a concentration of fresh jackal tracks converging to a point, usually an indication that there is a carcass nearby. !Nate, Kayate and Boroh//xao started looking for the carcass, hoping to get some meat, while !Nam!kabe stood to one side, silently watching the younger trackers scouring the area. After a while, when they found nothing and could not explain what had happened, !Nam!kabe pointed to some fresh dung. He explained that the jackals were feeding on dung beetles in the dung. Since they ate all the dung beetles, there was no evidence of what the jackals were feeding on.

On another occasion we were asked to investigate a complaint from a farmer in the Ganzi district who claimed that Wild Dogs were killing his cattle. His farm workers showed us a den - we found the tracks of Brown Hyena, but no sign of Wild Dog. They then took us to some bushes where they claimed the Wild Dogs were lying under some bushes. It had been raining for several days and there were no footprints to identify the animals, but there were still depressions in the ground around the bushes where the animals were lying close together. But !Nam!kabe pointed out that if they were Wild Dogs, we would not have seen any depressions where they were lying – Wild Dogs do not create depressions before they lie down, they simply lie down on the ground. Furthermore, Wild Dogs would not lie close together around a bush, but would lie down scattered over a larger area. Only Brown Hyena would lie close together under the bushes and dig shallow depressions in the sand. Even after days of heavy rains, with no tracks to give a positive identification, the way they lay down indicated that these were Brown Hyena, not Wild Dog.

Wilson Masia would not only be familiar with the smallest animals found in the Thornybush Game Reserve, but also animals whose tracks are hardly ever seen. On one day he pointed out the indistinct tracks of the Burchell's Coucal in course riverbed sand, a bird that rarely comes down to the ground – you hardly ever see this bird's tracks, but he knew them when he saw them. When conducting tracker evaluations, Karel (Vet Piet) Kleinman a Master Tracker who worked in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park would point out feint little half-moon shapes in the sand, the sign of a little grass hopper that was buried beneath the soft sand and took flight, leaving tiny little wing marks in the sand. Their intimate knowledge of animal behavior allowed them to visualize what the animal was doing and predict its movements and activities.

Even when there are no apparent tracks to be seen in thickly matted dry grass, Wilson Masia would read the terrain, and based on the movements of the lions we have been tracking, point in the general direction where he predicts we would find tracks. Often, when prompted, he would readily admit when he does not know where they are, and will be quick to concede when he has lost the tracks. But usually his intuition would get us back onto the trail, sometimes a considerable distance from the last known footprints. When tracking in difficult terrain, the Master Tracker relies extensively on his knowledge of the behavior of the animals within the context of the local terrain, making predictions that may seem uncanny to someone who does not understand speculative tracking.

Vet Piet would glance at some lion tracks going up the side of a dune. Immediately he could see that this male lion got up, ran up the dune at a trot, stood still to listen to something in the distance, and then trotted off at a steady pace in a specific direction. He explained that the lion had heard a female in the distance, got up and trotted higher up on the dune where he stood still to listen, and then trotted off to go and find the female. He then got into the vehicle and drove around some high dunes to find his way to where he predicted the lion had been going. He picked up the tracks and followed them to a spot where the lion had encountered two other lions, a male and a female. The tracks indicated that the two males hade been fighting over the female, after which one of the males went off together with the female. The original set of tracks only indicated a male lion that got up, stopped, and continued at a trot. But the way it moved showed that it was not hunting, since it was not trying to move stealthily to stalk a prey animal. Rather, it stopped to listen to something at a distance that it found attractive, and then moved off at a steady pace. The way it moved indicated that it was attracted to a female in the distance.

The Master Tracker also has an understanding of ecological processes at landscape level over a period of time. When I first started working with Karel (Pokkie) Benadie, he pointed out that you cannot, as one rhino specialist did, come to the Karoo National Park for only ten days in the year to study their feeding behavior. The Black Rhino feeds on different plants at different times of the year, depending on the availability of plants during the different seasons. His observation was subsequently put to the test when he and James (JJ) Minye became the first trackers to use the CyberTracker to monitor rhino feeding behavior in the Karoo National Park. Their results were published in the journal Pachyderm, making them the first non-literate trackers to co-author a paper published in an academic journal, based on data they themselves gathered independently. Karel also pointed out that porcupines at one point had a number of dens against a hill, where they would feed on an abundance of their favorite plant foods. But they subsequently moved out of the area because their food became exhausted.

The Master Tracker has a curiosity in nature that far exceeds practical needs. Perhaps the most striking example of knowledge for the sake of knowledge among /Gwi trackers is found in their detailed knowledge of ants. Their knowledge of ants, for example, far exceeded their practical hunting requirements. I interviewed Karoha, /Uase and !Nate of Lone Tree in the central Kalahari, Botswana.

The /Gwi have eleven names for ants, including the velvet ant (a wingless wasp), and termites. In addition, some ants referred to by the generic name for ants are clearly recognised as different species, and may be described as the 'small red ants', the 'small ants that live in trees', or 'the red ant that bites you'. Some ant names are arbitrary and do not have any meaning. Other ant names describe a distinctive feature of the ant. !gom means 'to kneel', because when they sting, the poison is strong and acts quickly – it is so painful that one has to sit down on one's knees. |a|aana means 'your body shakes', because the poison is very strong. !uje|e|e means 'to carry all things back to their home', because they are both predators and scavengers – they scavenge the skeletal remains of millipedes, insects, dried out berries, as well as anything they can kill. !ale means 'to carry new things', because they are predators that feed on anything they can kill themselves. |ham means 'sticky', because they have soft bodies. !ole refers to the colour of the ant, a light reddish-orange. Some ants are edible. |da is described as the 'old people's rice', because it is a food reserved for old people. !ole is used as a 'salt' and is eaten with a plant food.

Much of their knowledge of ants is gained in a tracking context. This is illustrated by their detailed knowledge of the !uri|xam. In one instance we noticed that for quite a large distance there were no tracks of steenbok or duiker (small antelope). At one point I noticed large black ants were swarming all over the ground and biting the trackers on their feet. One tracker, !Nate, told me that this is why we have not seen any steenbok or duiker tracks in that area. The |xam ants persist in biting them, forcing them to avoid the area. A short distance further !Nate pointed at sign where a steenbok had been lying down, showing signs of agitation as it got up and turned around in circles, before eventually leaving the area. They further explained that during the rainy season (November to March) the |xam cut grass which they drag down their holes to store for the dry season. The |xam only eat grass and soft plants. During this period they do not want any other animals to come near their holes. If a steenbok comes too near, they become aggressive and bite it. When they bite an animal they cover the bite with a 'liquid from the abdomen.' They will attack steenbok, duiker, jackals, aardwolves, foxes, hares, springhares, mongooses and ground squirrels. The trackers further say that the springhare eats too much grass, which is why the ants attack them. But they maintain that the aardvark does not eat the |xam ant.

They say that the aardvark feeds on |ham, !ale, |da and !uje|e|e. It does not feed on |xam, ‡'aa, !gom, |a|aana, ||om||om, !ole and ||ha||hane. The reason why it does not feed on the ‡'aa termite is because the nest is 'too deep underground' and because its tongue is too thin to lick them up when they are above ground. They note that the aardwolf does not dig for ants like the aardvark. It only feeds on ‡'aa and !uje|e|e. Unlike the aardvark, it feeds on the ‡'aa termites when they are above the ground by licking them up with its broad tongue. The pangolin feeds on |ham, and not ‡'aa, for the same reasons as the aardvark.

These examples show a level of detail in their knowledge of ants that far exceed the practical requirements of hunting. In fact much of this knowledge may not be relevant to hunting at all. This demonstrates that Master Trackers develop knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself.

A Master Tracker certificate may be awarded to a nominee, who is a Senior Tracker, by and at the discretion of the CyberTracker Evaluations Standards Committee. Only Senior Trackers who have made a particular meritorious contribution to the understanding of the art of tracking, or the sustainability there of, or the behavior, ecology or conservation of a particular species, applying tracking skills, can be nominated by members of the Evaluations Standards Committee, or an Evaluator, or an External Evaluator. Under normal circumstances a tracker can not be nominated unless he or she has at least fifteen years experience, including at least ten years as a Senior Tracker, unless he or she achieved the Senior Tracker certificate on his or her first evaluation. In recognition of their traditional knowledge, exceptions may be made for traditional trackers in recent hunter-gatherer communities.

July 2013
CyberTracker Evaluation Standards Committee

Louis Liebenberg, Wilson Masia, Juan Pinto, Adriaan Louw and Mark Elbroch