To deal with conventional poaching it is essential for conservation agencies to have good relations with neighbouring communities. Information obtained from communities is an important component in any anti-poaching strategy. Another important source of information is tracks and signs in the field.
Signs of intruders may be detected even when it is difficult to find footprints. For example, the tracks of animals fleeing indicates a disturbance, and if no signs of predators are found, further investigation may reveal human intruders. Trackers may also be able to tell if an animal was fleeing from a predator or a human from the way it was running. Scavenger spoor converging to a point may also indicate the presence of a large carcass hidden from vultures.
Poachers will become increasingly sophisticated over time, so there will always be a need to improve the expertise of trackers. Expert trackers can identify individual persons by their spoor, in the same way that a person’s handwriting can be recognised. Every person has an individual mannerism in the way he or she walks, leaving a “signature” in his or her spoor.