Tracking The Art of Tracking

The Development of Tracking Skills for the Future

Tracking should be recognised as a specialised profession. As long as trackers are held in low esteem in the eyes of the younger generation, young people will have no motivation to qualify themselves as trackers. To encourage young men and women to become trackers, the expert tracker should be paid a relatively high salary and should be promoted on the basis of his or her experience in the field.

While basic tracking skills can be trained in a short period, the more sophisticated aspects of tracking could take many years to develop. Furthermore, the intuitive and creative aspects require an inherent aptitude, so only some people have the potential to become expert trackers. Even amongst indigenous hunter-gatherers only about 20% of the hunters were expert trackers. Tracking requires keen senses, acute observation, physical fitness, patience, perseverance, concentration, alertness, a good memory, an analytical mind, an understanding of nature, intuition and a creative imagination. To become an expert tracker requires an above average intelligence.

Since tracking conditions and animal behaviour may vary considerably from one area to another, trackers should be trained and deployed in specific areas, which they should get to know intimately. Tracking involves a specialised knowledge of the whole environment, including geographical features such as the location of water holes, rivers and paths, as well as ecological information on soil conditions, plant species and animal communities. A tracker who is an expert on his or her local environment may not necessarily be able to cope as well in a foreign area.

In order to develop the art of tracking as a modern profession it is important to maintain very high standards. 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.

In the long term a core of expert trackers could be established in selected protected areas, which can form the basis of a network of tracking expertise. Such a network of trackers can provide the mentoring of the new generation of trackers. This will ensure that the tracking tradition is revitalised and developed into a modern science.