A group of proffessionals hunters and outfitters have shared with us their opinions about african native trackers, about their habilities and woodsman skills. Here is the first post, hope you enjoy.
Ken Moody, dba Ken Moody Hunting Africa
With regards to the tracking abilities of indigenous Africans I offer the following based on nearly 20 years of owning and operating an African safari company…..
“While many clients who witness the tracking abilites of our trackers attribute these skills to some sixth sense, the entire process is not that complicated and can be taught to almost anyone with a keen eye and ability to focus and concentrate. What one must remember is that these native or local trackers grew up in the bush and have lived lives in close proximity to the wildlife that is present in those areas. Additionally, almost all have had experience herding and moving cattle which requires that they track and find them in the bush as they gather them together. They have grown up looking at the ground and following tracks so for them it is not anything more than a learned trait. It is certainly not some mystical, unnatural superpower that some would attitribute it to. It is simply the repetition of a task from childhood that makes them so good. If anyone of us grew up under the same conditions we would all be superb trackers when compared to a novice. I personally can track quite well as can any good PH who has been in the bush doing it for more than a decade. Once you master one track from another and get the gait of the animal you are tracking in your head it is not that difficult to track a single animal. One track must lead to another and the basic gait of the animal will tell you where the next track should be.
Additionally, the soil in Africa is certainly more conducive to easier tracking than it is in most other places. While there are certainly better trackers who can track a wounded animal in and out of a herd’s movement, the basics of tracking can be learned by almost anyone who is willing to do the work. We have trained guys to track who previously were cooks or capers and initially didn’t know a kudu track from a impala. Most pick it up quite quickly after a couple of years training.
It’s not magic althought to the novice it may appear to be.”
Stewart Dorrington, from Melorani Safaris,
My clients are usually very impressed with the tracking abilities of our locals. There are reasons for this
First reason, they grow up in the bush and from small are observing natural phenomena. Even collecting cattle, goats and donkeys requires observation powers. If a cow or goat is missing the boy or man has to look for it, so their observation powers start off young…even if they are not yet following wildlife.
The second reason why many trackers appears so good…is that the client is so bad!! Many clients have very little skill in tracking and so they are amazed when we track and find animals that they could never have found.
It is also true that some trackers are better than others. Not all can track equally even though they grew up together. I have noticed in the field that some have far more skill in finding hard tracks or blood than others. I think it is because they perhaps enjoy tracking more whilst some trackers may find it work others may find it a fun challenge that may result in a tip or bonus from the client.