EcoTraining is launching a new two-month tracking course in 2021 that includes modules revolving around monitoring rhinos, lions and leopards in the wild.
55-Day EcoTracker: Wildlife Monitoring will take place at Selati and Pridelands game reserves in South Africa. “It’s a first for Africa, and we think it will be a very sought-after course,” says EcoTraining Sales & Product Manager Corne Schalkwyk.
Students will learn practical tracking skills that can be applied in both conservation and the ecotourism industry. The three modules include:
Tracker for Wildlife Protection (Anti-Poaching)
Students will spend time with a K9 unit (dog trackers) and a small team of field rangers as they go about their work patrolling a game reserve with black and white rhinos. Participants will follow human trails, learn how to detect evidence of poaching, and discover how tracker dogs are trained and used in the field.
Tracker for Animal Monitoring
Students will conduct an in-situ track transect for animal monitoring purposes. Participants will operate under the auspices of a local rangeland ecologist and collect track-based data for the reserve’s research efforts. This project involves documenting the diversity of animal species present on the reserve without having to see the actual animals. This module will also teach students how to use telemetry to find lions on the reserve.
Students will track leopards on foot (and in vehicles) as part of a predator habituation project. Some individual leopards on the reserve are not yet accustomed to the presence of people and vehicles. Under the guidance of the instructor, participants will track leopards in an effort to establish their territorial dynamics and to build relationships with these elusive cats.
In addition to the 55-day course, the modules will be offered separately as custom itineraries for small groups that want to do something new and wild. “Think of them as potential seven-day experiences,” says Schalkwyk.