Tracking 2006 conference of International Society of Professional Trackers   



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The International Society of Professional Trackers

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An International Conference of Trackers

Abstracts of Accepted Presentations
(Listed in alphabetical order by presentation title)

Animal Tracking in Wildlife Research: Observer Reliability and the Tracker Evaluation as a Training Tool
presented by Jonah Evans and Ciel Wharton, Texas A & M University, Boerne, Texas

Animal tracks and other signs are used abundantly in wildlife monitoring and research. Important management decisions based on the results of these studies can significantly impact wildlife populations. However, in many cases, observer skill in correctly identifying tracks is either overlooked or assumed to be high. Join us for a presentation on how tracking is used in research and a case study in which CyberTracker Conservation's Tracker Evaluation System was used to improve river otter monitoring in east Texas. Results from the evaluation were used to determine the reliability of otter track survey data collected over the last 10 years. In addition, the value of the Tracker Evaluation as a training tool was also assessed by comparing the scores of 23 wildlife biologists from two evaluations and through analysis of participant questionnaire responses. The outcome of this project has significant implications for the future use of the Tracker Evaluation and animal tracking in wildlife research.

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

The Black Rhino Project in the Karoo and The Nhordhoek Project on the Cape Peninsula
presented by Louis Liebenberg, founder of CyberTracker Conservation and creator of CyberTracker Software; and James Minye "JJ", Senior Tracker

(Full abstracts are not currently available for presentations from our special guest trackers from Africa. Presentation contingent on approval of travel visas.)

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

Following Blood Trails: A SAR Perspective
presented by Mark Gleason and C. Steve Frye, Search and Rescue Tracking Institute, Front Royal, Virginia.

The incidence of following blood trails and confirming blood evidence is rather low for the search and rescue professional. Knowledge and experience on this subject does, however, come in handy for those moments that one is called to perform, follow, or preserve blood evidence. The skill is essentially one of many "tools" in one's SAR tool kit. Nothing replaces experience. You have to see blood in real life, in context, to learn. The appearance of blood deposits can vary based upon the type of wound, the wound site, the activity level of the wounded subject, and other factors. Like any sign of human passage, blood deposits can take on very different appearances based upon (a) the base line surface, (b) the environment in which the blood is deposited, (c) the "aging" process. In this presentation, participants will be able to observe blood "in context," and learn about the varying factors to consider when following a blood trail.

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

In the Footsteps of the Ancestors: What Tracking Can Teach Us About the Past
presented by Dr. David Kowalewski, Alfred University, Alfred, New York

The presentation looks at history through the eyes of a tracker. Whereas the popular notion is that tracks are here today but gone tomorrow, trackers know better. In fact, by looking at ancient prints, a unique window onto the past is revealed. As such, trackers have a unique contribution to make to the study of ancient times. From ichnology (the study of fossil prints) and aborigine "hand tracks" to present-day "fill-ins" and "ghost tracks," the presentation offers a potpourri of topics revealing the benefits that tracking can offer disciplines as diverse as paleontology and forensics.

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

presented by Louis Liebenberg (see above) and Mark Elbroch (from the United States),
renowned author and only current American CyberTracker Senior Tracker, Evaluator

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

The Role of the Tracker in Private Game Reserves
presented by Mathanjana "Renias" Mhlongo, Senior Tracker, Londolozi Private Game;
and Alexander van den Heever, Senior Tracker, Land Manager for Londolozi Private Game Reserve.

(Full abstracts are not currently available for presentations from our special guest trackers from Africa, presentation contingent on approval of travel visas.)

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

SAR Trackers: Communicating Shoe Print Information
Presented by Del Morris, ISPT

"You can't rescue them until you find them" and tracking will help you find your subject faster. We will introduce "new" tools to take back to your SAR teams for use on your very next search. I believe that all searchers need to be progressing toward being trackers. The SAR world has 30 years of "teachings" that a searcher, when trained in mantracking, can be an asset to your search. It is time to put these teachings into practice.

Includes an outline of a categorization of outsole design. Shoe outsole pattern design is a dynamic process that is constantly evolving rather than a static set of forms or shapes. Because of this, outsoles can be identified as being "unique" with confidence. Communicating something seen and then understood via a two-way radio is difficult due to the different descriptive terms that we apply to shapes. Communication of complex design needs to be broken down into categories.

Categorization helps:

  • Reduce the complexity of the outsole design

  • Reduce the need for learning all of the outsole designs

  • Effect an orderly radio transmission to validate the subject's "shoeprints"

We offer tools to increase "print sketching" skills as well as the ability to broadcast sole patterns via radio to other searchers effectively. We encourage an open discussion of "realities" of tracking resources. We will discuss "Core Tracking Knowledge" to reduce the "expectation gap" that exists between SAR bosses and SAR trackers. This is NOT a lecture - be prepared to participate.

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

Track Aging: Theory and Practice
presented by David Moskowitz, Wilderness Awareness School, Duvall, Washington

Answering the question "how old are these tracks?" is a vital part of many tracking problems. Sometimes the answer to this question is simple, easily deduced and proven. At other times, accuracy in aging tracks can vary widely and may be hard to objectively verify. Often, aging tracks is thought of simply in terms of what the weather has done to deteriorate the track, but this can be very misleading. In the field, the process of determining the age of tracks requires looking at several key factors: substrate type, condition of substrate at time of foot imprint, micro-habitat factors, ecological considerations of focal species or individual, and possibly the intuition of an experienced tracker. Looking at these factors and following a few simple practices can turn aging tracks from pure guesswork to a systematic and reliable process. Along with a theoretical explanation of the topic, several practical field techniques for increasing accuracy in track aging will be introduced and practiced. The field session will provide opportunities for discussion and best practices sharing from participants.

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

`Trackeyeng' and Relearning to See - Human Visual Perception and the Search Image in Tracking
presented by Rob Speiden, Natural Awareness Tracking School, LLC, Christiansburg, Virginia;
and David Moskowitz, Wilderness Awareness School, Duvall, Washington

Is seeing believing or does believing cause seeing? Without ignoring the other senses that we can use in tracking to increase the sensual experience of our surroundings, vision is the dominant sense that we rely upon for information about the environment around us. While sight is the human's and the tracker's dominant sense, it can still fool us in many ways. What we perceive is influenced not only by incoming stimuli through out eyes but also by factors including: past experience/knowledge, where an individual chooses to focus their attention, what one believes they should be seeing, and the duration of time over which observation happens.

This presentation is designed to explore the human visual perception process's strengths and weaknesses, and to understand how this process influences our creation and effective use of search images. An anatomical and functional review of the visual system as it relates to tracking will reveal limitations of the eye-brain connections. Strategies will be discussed to improve one's ability to maintain effective attention to the tracking task including the elements of visual perception, creation and deconstruction of search images, illusion recognition and varying the visual field. We will be "relearning to see."

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

Tracking Dangerous Game
presented by Johnson Mhlanga, Senior Tracker, Singita Lebombo Private Game Reserve; and Adrian Louw, Senior Tracker, Fulltime Evaluator for CyberTracker, Spent his entire career working with rangers and leading rifle training in the Greater Kruger area.

Presentation would include but not be limited to:

  • Dangerous game in Southern Africa

  • Safety

  • Alertness

  • Stealth

  • In-depth knowledge of the species

  • Intuition

  • Channeling adrenalin

(Full abstracts are not currently available for presentations from our special guest trackers from Africa, presentation contingent on approval of travel visas.)

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

Tracking Lions
presented by Ian Thomas (and other guests), Senior Tracker, Evaluator, specializes in lion tracking.

Full abstracts are not currently available for presentations from our special guest trackers from Africa, presentation contingent on approval of travel visas.)

line of tracks by Kim Cabrera

Trailing Field Intensive

3-hour special field program (Sunday Morning) on trailing led by the African guest trackers, limited to the first 20 registrants of Tracking 2006!

First registrations received with payment will get first options on attending this Field Intensive.


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