Follow the story of LFGA student Amy Andree, a zookeeper from Wisconsin, USA, right here on our blog series. In this 3rd installment, Amy shares the highs and lows of the famous Track and Sign Week.
Week 3: we are nearly half way through Phase 1 and all of us have completed our first game drive. We’ve had elephants visit our camp a couple times now. You could watch them for hours and still have so much to learn. This week is all about Track and Sign Interpretation.
We were lucky enough to have two incredibly knowledgeable interns during our tracking week, educating us and helping us along the way. Didi from Germany and Caterina from Italy, took us out into the bush for 8-9 hours a day locating tracks and signs for us to identify.
The week was tough and some of us had some outrageous ideas of who the tracks belonged to resulting in that person having to buy ice cream for everyone. One student thought a scrub hare track was from a lion and I thought a zebra track was from a crocodile. Needless to say we had ice cream all week!
Each night we sat around the fire getting our results from the 50 tracks we identified during the day. These tracks and signs were anywhere from exoskeletons from a millipede to hippo dung. Cate and Didi found lion, hyena, buffalo, ant, grasshopper, toad and several other animal tracks, bark scraped off trees from elephants, mud on the bark from a rhino and so much more.
It wasn’t an easy task finding and identifying these tracks in the hot African sun but it was worth every second. This all prepared us for our assessment with Mark. I knew I had to study hard and be focused and that’s exactly what I did to achieve CyberTracker Track and Sign Level 1.
It was a proud accomplishment considering I struggled through the week. This week was tough in other ways as well. We witnessed how harsh human beings can really be. We saw a female waterbuck with a snare around her neck embedded so deeply there were gaping holes. Luckily the dedicated team from Mongena came to immobilize her to remove it but she was too far gone and succumbed to her injuries.
A poacher who shot and killed 3 white rhinos outside the reserve was caught but there are still so many out there that need harsh repercussions. It’s difficult hearing about this and even more so witnessing it. Man really is the worst feared animal. The only one who needs a rhino horn is a rhino. The only one who needs an elephant trunk is an elephant. Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints and always go where you grow.
Stay tuned for the next instalment of Amy’s diary – right here on our blog!