To be a tracker takes patience, it takes skill and above all else it takes passion.
People from all over the world descend on Southern African for many things, from Cape Town and their flat rock to Johannesburg for its vibrant culture and history and everywhere in between. However the main reason people come here is for its wildlife. For its abundant and gorgeous wildlife.
What most people don't realize is just how those rare and endangered animals are found. Que the professional tracker. These men ( I am yet to meet a lady tracker but I am sure they exist) come from years of dedication and generations of knowledge handed down to them by their ancestors before them. A skilled often honed and perfected as Shepard's. And finally being fully utilized by safari lodges all over Africa.
I am not shy in saying that most of what I have learned about animal behavior and of course track and sign has come from these legends of the bush. My first tracker, Edde, taught me to be calm and collected in the face of charging elephants. He also taught me African wisdom in all departments of nature, from local belief to indigenous use. This proved invaluable to me as a 21 year old white guide, whose teachings were mostly scientific fact
My current tracker Jack aka Dugga Boy has taught me so much over the 18 months that I have been with him. He has taught me how to trail many animals, how to think like one of these gorgeous beasts, how to respect them and most of all he has taught how to not give up. I have witnessed this man track a single lioness for over 5 hours across our entire traversing, I have witnessed him tracking through the bush right past our coffee stop with guests, not even stopping for a bottle of water in the hot African summer. He has found many animals that tourists take for granted. He has found leopard dens after hours of tracking, he has found lions on a whim and he has helped me and my guests see many things from lions to rhinos on foot. His passion and dedication to the job is unheard of. When asked if he would like to do anything else with his life, he simply responded "No, I love the bush, I love the animals." He has taught me what hard work is. There has been no shortage from Dugga Boy in the line of African wisdom either, constantly teaching me what he knows about the bush and all its wonders as well as animal behavior.
These men are responsible for so much of the wonderful game we see. They go about their work quietly and patiently and are always ready to put their own safety on the line in order for people to witness the true beauties of Africa.
The Art of Tracking is exactly that.