Lucky owners living at Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate have the luxury of living among some of the most fascinating African wildlife. Seeing these wonderful animals by chance is wonderful, but tracking them successfully poses a much more rewarding adventure experience and offers a fantastic opportunity for your children to learn about animals. Here are some tips for tracking animals in the bush.
When trying to track animals in the wild there are many clues to look out for. The best approach is always to use all of your senses instead of relying just on what you can see. If you stand very still and take some time to listen you might hear movement which will give you a direction to head in. Once you start walking you can keep a lookout for the following.
Also known as spoor, tracks are one of the easiest ways of identifying animals if you know what to look for. Every animal leaves a unique track and although some tend to look quite similar, you can tell them apart if you just know how. When looking for tracks try to find soft and clear sand where the basic outline and shape can easily be seen. Spoor are also easier to see early in the morning or late afternoon when the sun is low enough so shadow can give shape to the spoor.
Animal waste can also be very valuable in identifying animals as well as determining how long ago they were there. Most animals have droppings that are unique to them but with certain buck species they are much alike. In these cases you might have to use other clues to be certain. Figuring out how old droppings are is a skill that takes time since you have to take many things into consideration like what droppings they are, what the weather is like etc.
Many animals have unique habits that could leave puzzling clues in the bush if you don’t know about these behaviours. Hippos for example use their tail as a fan to swot dung in different directions. Zebras like to roll in the dust while warthog, elephant and rhino like to make mud wallows. Elephants also rub against trees while some cat species claw bark off. The more you know about animal behaviour the more signs you will find in the bush.
Here are some tips for tracking some of our most commonly spotted animals at Likweti Estate:
The spoor of Zebra resembles those of a horse but is slightly smaller than an adult horse and slightly larger than a donkey’s. Zebra are mostly found in herds so there would usually by many tracks around the same area.
Giraffe tracks are longer and larger than any other cloven hoof animal track and are hard to mistake with any other track unless it is a juvenile animal. In this case it will most probably be accompanied by an adult.
Kudu have cloven hooves that are sharper in front and rounder at the back. Adult Kudu’s tracks measure between 7 and 8cm in length and 4,5 to 5,5cm in width.
Warthog have thick cloven hooves that are rounded front and back but are narrower than those of Bushpigs, and the dew claws usually mark clearly in the spoor. It measures about 50mm long and 45mm wide.