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

  • Road tripping in Atlantic Canada

    It's a wonder that Atlantic Canada, with its glorious coastline and open roads, isn't over-run with campervans and hire cars... Take your pick from these fab undervisited routes

  • Fancy an alternative beach break in Thailand?

    Millions of people flock to Thailand's beaches every year, but this puts a strain on its beautiful coast. Organisations across the country are working to preserve its pristine white sands – here's how you can get involved too

  • First 24 hours in Perth, Western Australia

    Could this be Australia’s most liveable city? After heading down under Lyn Hughes reckons the sunny, buzzy, beautiful, booming, capital of the west might just be...

  • More Destinations

Advice

select
select
select
select
Departure date:
RadDatePicker
RadDatePicker
Open the calendar popup.
Return date:
RadDatePicker
RadDatePicker
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