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Animal Tracks and Signs of Africa Course
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The course's modules
Introduction Introduction For a great many bush enthusiasts and field guides, the presence of animal tracks and signs is either meaningless or ignored. However, a vast amount of information can be gleaned about mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates without ever seeing them. Every animal leaves some indication of its presence or passing, whereby it can be recognised.
Paw tracks Paw tracks Six components are required to cover this topic fully. First, separated by the presence or absence of claw marks in the tracks, paws with claws are divided into five distinct class sizes.
Hands and feet, three-toed and big game tracks Hands and feet, three-toed and big game tracks This module contains a mixed variety of species and track types. We examine the hands and feet of primates, three-toed species and big game such as the elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus.
Hoof tracks Hoof tracks The vast majority of mammalian terrestrial species fall into this category. We differentiate species by cloven and non-cloven species; and further divide the cloven-hoofed animals into large, medium and small; each group merits its own component.
Bird tracks Bird tracks This module examined bird tracks divisible by webbed and non-webbed feet.
Tramline trails and undulating tracks Tramline trails and undulating tracks A tramline indicates that the tracks of the right and left sides of the animal are clearly separated but form a unit of a double line. This track may or may not have a central dragline caused by the animal tail. Undulating tracks are single, seemingly random tracks.
Droppings Droppings There are a remarkable array and variety, and they are divided here into four component based specifically upon their differing shapes, which may be cylindrical, lozenge, grooved, pancake and large barrel-shaped, spherical, larger cylindrical; sausage - shaped, pointed, tapered and segmented; mixed shape, kidney-shaped, bird pellets and liquid.
Feeding signs Feeding signs Some feeding signs may remain visible for long periods, for example, a tree pushed over by an elephant to gain access to pods, but a lion kill may be reduced to a few large bones in a matter of hours by spotted hyaenas, black-backed jackals and vultures. Feeding signs may include claw and tooth marks, holes in trees or the ground, remains of prey, damaged fruit and other plant parts.
Other tracks and signs Other tracks and signs Indicators of passing wildlife range from the overt to the covert, but all can be discovered when you know what to look for and where.
Nests, shelters and holes Nests, shelters and holes Many species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates construct or use some form of shelter. These shelters may be permanent, such as those made by termites, or temporary, as is the case with nearly all bird nests. The shelter's location, materials used, size, and structure can all give clues to the identity of the builder or occupier.
Skulls Skulls This final module takes an in-depth look at skulls, as they might be found in the field. Nine separate components cover 110 specific species accounts. Each account includes an annotated photograph.

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