Track wild animals with these top tips (dreamstime)

7 tips on how to track wild animals

10th April 2012

Expert tracker Ian Maxwell helps you pick up the scent in the world's wildest places

1. Zone in

Learn to feel the heartbeat of your environment. Find somewhere to sit (it can be anywhere; my favourite is at the bottom of a tree), then let your mind go blank.

2. Develop your senses

Get good at feeling, seeing, listening, tasting and smelling. We think vision is our strongest sense, but smell is our most primeval – it can deliver more information than any other. When you’ve honed your senses, they will combine into one super-sense: intuition.

3. Learn the landscape

Getting to know where the food, water and barriers are will help you to find good tracks. Imagine flying above the landscape, gaining a bird’s eye view of the animal you’re tracking.

4. Get into the mind of your quarry

Think as the animal is thinking. If I’m in dangerous-animal country I try to think ‘smarter’ than the animal.

5. Know where to look

Find the shadows and you’ll find the leopard (they rely on them for camouflage). Find the prey and you’ll find the predator. Also, look for ‘track traps’ – soft or sandy patches, into which animals are funnelled; try trails – most animals opt for the path of least resistance.

6. Know what to look for

Keep your eyes peeled for colour change and context. Your eye will be drawn to obvious tracks; once you’ve noted them, start looking for the less-obvious signs.

7. Watch birds

Birds carry silent messages of intent from a hunting predator. For example, in Africa, if the vultures are in the sky, be aware – the predators are still hunting; if the vultures are in the trees, be very careful, because predators may well still be feeding; if the birds are on the ground, it’s less dangerous.

Ian Maxwell is founder of Shadowhawk Tracker School, which runs a range of UK tracking courses

More like this

The world's top 5 urban birding spots | Blogs... More

Tracking tigers on foot in India | Destinations... More

Wildlife facts: did you know...? | Inspire me... More

Check out our wildlife and safaris travel guide for trips to take to spot all sorts | Plan a trip... More

Top tips for photographing wildlife | Advice... More

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login or get more from Wanderlust - register today!

 Your Comments (1)

  • 12th April by Sergeant_Pluck

    Boring! I wan to learn how to tell how far away a herd of stampeding buffalo is by putting my head to the ground like an Apache tracker, or find out how long ago and elephant passed this way by putting my finger in it's dung!


    Report as inappropriate

MAKE IT HAPPEN

loading...

Destinations

  • Palestine: Wandering the West Bank

    Despite the headlines, Palestine is safe to visit – and its ancient cities and proud people make for fascinating travel, says Matthew Teller

  • The real Mauritius

    Away from the tourist beaches, Royston Ellis discovers the real Mauritius, and uncovers a vibrant people and varied history

  • Short break: Bagan, Burma

    Marco Polo called it ‘one of the finest sights in the world’; you voted it ‘Top City’ – Nick Boulos discovers why Bagan is a winner in any Myanmar itinerary

  • More Destinations

Advice

  • How to dodge tick-borne diseases

    Feeding for days, surviving for years… as we approach peak tick season, Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth answers the key queries concerning these biters, so you can avoid them

  • Instant expert: The Vikings

    With the British Museum's Viking exhibition now open, we give you the low down on the Medieval Era's most prolific travellers and name the best Viking sites around the world

  • More Advice
select
select
select
select
Departure date:
Open the calendar popup.
Return date:
Open the calendar popup.
Date flexibility:
Spin UpSpin Down
Search

Need some travel planning inspiration?

Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.

Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking. Enjoy!

Search
Email

Wanderlust in your inbox

Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!





I have read and agree to the Terms & Conditions

Submit