Expert trackers can give valuable assistance to researchers studying animal behaviour. Apart from knowledge based on direct observations of animals, trackers gain a detailed understanding of animal behaviour through the interpretation of tracks and signs. In this way much information can be obtained that would otherwise remain unknown, especially on the behaviour of rare or nocturnal animals that are not often seen.
Furthermore, tracks and signs offer information on undisturbed, natural behaviour, while direct observations often influences the animal by the mere presence of the observer. Tracking is therefore a non-invasive method of information gathering, in which potential stress caused to animals can be minimised.
Combining traditional tracking with modern technology, such as radio tracking, may enable the researcher to accomplish much more than either method could accomplish on its own.
The employment of trackers in research would require the highest level of expertise in spoor interpretation. To interpret spoor the tracker must have a sophisticated understanding of animal behaviour. Individual trackers may also specialise in particular species. There is in principle no limit to the level of sophistication to which a tracker can develop his or her expertise. Furthermore, knowledge gained from scientific literature could also be used to develop a tracker’s understanding of animal behaviour.
The CyberTracker field computer system will enhance the value of trackers and develop the art of tracking into a new science with many practical applications in nature conservation and wildlife management