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COVID 19 has thrust us into unfamiliar territory. How we make decisions during this time is vital. To emerge stronger we must be able to make good decisions despite the uncertainty.
We have much to learn from the world’s finest wildlife trackers. They make informed decisions that help them find the animals they pursue. Especially in difficult and uncertain circumstances, where evidence is often incomplete.
They have learnt to deal with a complex and uncontrollable wild environment.
As a result, they have an above-average success rate in finding animals.
They do not have advisors, instructions or algorithms to rely on. Nature is wordless.
Instead, they rely on technical competence and a superior understanding of the animals that they track.
They are constantly gathering information. This comes from a broad range of sources. Tracks on the ground, bird alarm calls, scents and the presence of other animals, to name a few.
When they find a track there is much to consider. Its age, what the animal is doing, and importantly, the suitability of the terrain for the tracking effort.
Past experiences are used to understand patterns of animal behaviour, which they remember. Past events also provide scope for a much wider range of decision-making options.
This is true situational analysis.
In 2019 Renias Mhlongo successfully tracked pumas in extraordinarily difficult conditions in Patagonia, Chile.
They make extensive use of inductive reasoning. From a single track, they are able to speculate what the animal is doing. With remarkable accuracy. To achieve this, they will construct an explanation from the signs they’ve observed, and then actively move to verify its validity.
Expert trackers develop deep ecological literacy. This allows them to link seemingly unrelated pieces of information – in a single picture. One that makes sense.
To form this mental image, the tracker must be constantly answering three golden questions.
For the beginner these questions are deliberate. But as the tracker builds experience, this becomes less conscious. Almost second nature.
Here the three questions;
- What are the tracks saying?
The tracker must have clarity on what he is tracking. Recognising and interpreting the details of the trail is vital to staying on track. The difference between a black and white rhino’s track on hard ground is minuscule. A lack of competence with detail has far-reaching consequences.
- What is the behaviour?
Knowing the animal’s habits is key. Whether the rhino is feeding or patrolling its territory is a crucial insight for the tracker. The best trackers are intimate with the subtleties of animal behaviour. This knowledge is used to anticipate and leapfrog ahead.
- How is the landscape influencing the animal’s movement?
Animals never move randomly. Water, food and shelter affect where they go. The physical environment has a profound effect on the animal’s choice of route. And the tracker will constantly investigate areas of greatest opportunity. And by contrast, avoid areas of potential danger.
The tracker must still follow the tracks to find the animal. But by answering these questions he develops a picture of what the animal is doing, and how to get close to it.
Expert trackers teach us that successful decision-making should include the following 3 reflections:
- Attention to detail (tracks)
- Consideration for others & one’s values (behaviour)
- Regard for the circumstances & consequences (environment)
To learn more, contact us for a demo of our newly formed Tracking Success interactive documentary. It’s a virtual learning adventure that uses the ancient art of wildlife tracking as a metaphor for tracking organisational goals.