The course is run in partnership with renowned tracking specialist and expert, Alex van den Heever, to provide an in-depth animal tracks and tracking course at our remote wilderness camps. The course provider seeks to contribute to the restoration of indigenous knowledge, by involving highly experienced local Shangaan trackers to co-facilitate the tracker training courses. The course will give you a comprehensive understanding of the traditional skills of tracking animals, in their natural environment. During the courses, learners will develop a keen awareness for all tracks and signs as well as following and finding animals in the bushveld.
In many areas of our continent, over the past 30 years, ancient tracking skills have disappeared at an alarming rate. With rapid urbanisation in Africa, people no longer require the services of the original hunter-gatherers and traditional master trackers. Their deliberate ways of living have been replaced by modern retail outlets selling fast moving consumer goods. In the past, the trackers’ intimate ecological understanding was in fact their currency. This value was measured by their knowledge, ability and respect for nature. They were the leaders of their communities and the keepers of the ‘values’ of ancient culture which endures to this day.
The course is designed to give the learner as much practical understanding of tracking skills as possible.
The course will begin with the track and sign interpretation component whereby trainers will teach you how to analyse an animal’s track correctly. Insects, amphibians, birds, through to the large animals’ tracks are taught on the course. Well-illustrated tracking field guides are tremendously helpful in learning this component. Visual presentations of photos and illustrations are used to assist with the learning process.
The second component of the course deals with the ability to follow or ‘trail’ an animal’s track, until the tracker finds it. Trailing skills are complex and therefore take much longer to master. This requires a good level of fitness as well as mental focus.
Learners will get to experience the trailing skills first-hand from our Shangaan trainers who are some of the top trackers in South Africa. Once comfortable, the learners will have an opportunity to practice trailing an animal themselves, under the watchful eye of the trainers. Other aspects related to trailing, like animal and bird alarm calls, animal behaviour and reading the ‘freshness’ of a track also form part of this component.
During this unique aspect of our tracking course, our Shangaan trainer will give the learners a view into the ways of the ancient hunter-gatherer. Techniques long forgotten are introduced to the learners in a practical manner. Although no animals will be caught, learners can learn how to build traps using only natural materials. Tips on how to find bird nests, water and edible fruits are covered on the course. Our trainers will share with the learners their real experiences as young boys herding cattle and surviving in the bushveld. This component of the course is not evaluated.
The sleeping arrangements at all our camps consist of two people sharing per tent. Single requests are required to pay double-rates. Women and men do not share tents unless booked as a couple.
Meals – Early morning wake-up (tea, coffee, biscuits, fresh fruit and cereal), Brunch after activity (cooked breakfast and fruit salad), Afternoon tea (light lunch/ sandwiches), Dinner (balanced, warm plated meal with meat, vegetables and salad).
The week(s) culminates with a 3 to 4-day evaluation of both tracking components. Depending on the results achieved, the learner will receive a FGASA endorsed tracking certificate.
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