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The legacy of footprints

BY: Zander, Bushwise student 2020.

No matter how fast you are – no one will outrun their past. So make sure the next step you take, adds on to the legacy of what was years before. 

Remember the name Colin Patrick. This is a man that I believe could probably track a flying insect in the air and still tell you if it went left or right or looked up or down. That is how good he is. Semester 2, week 3. The week of track and sign with Colin Patrick. 

One thing Colin made me realise is how tracking can take a person back in time, and how our society has changed. These days people are walking around with tunnel vision. They are so focused on their phones while walking, or they can’t hear what is going on around them because they have earphones in their ears. Where we are, in the bush, you cannot walk around like that, because if you do, you are a dead man. 

Colin asked us how many lion tracks we need to see in our life to be able to know for sure that it is a lion. We all said maybe five or six. But we were all wrong, he simply said ‘never enough times.’ And during this week we found out what he meant. 

The first day I think most of us were thinking “is this guy making this stuff up?”, because we can’t see that track or how can he know the rhino was looking to the left. After a few days, we finally got into a rhythm and built up some confidence, thinking we were all great trackers. But then he pushed our limits and slammed our confidence right back to rock bottom. At this point in time, I told myself that I’m going to drive over the next scrub hare I see, just so it cannot leave a track. Scrub hare – 4, Zander – 0. Let’s not even to talk about the birds (which all look the same). I got as far as identifying them as a bird until Colin hit me with (the second most hated sentence for the week other than scrub hare) “be more specific”. 

It was a hot and tiring week being out in the field all day long. Wednesday was a full day in the African bush. Halfway through the day we stopped and made brunch in the bush, with an hour and a half to spare to catch up on a siesta before hitting the soil again. 

My favourite part of the week was when we got a chance to take our mind off things. We did some anti-poaching training with Colin, and his dog (second wife) Annie. He asked us who wanted to be “poachers” and they would go hide so that Annie could find us. Myself, Matt, Andi, Benno and Jack went in as poachers. We walked, in circles, zig-zagged our way through the bushes trying to trick the dog. Jumping and running in circles and different directions. I was so sure I was going to trick this dog and that she really was going to struggle to find us. Meanwhile, back at the ranch Andisa’s (Andi) allergies started to kick in and just as we sat down to hide, he sneezed a few times blowing our whole cover. It was a cakewalk for Anni to find us.

The week came to an end and we did our Track & Sign assessments, all hoping to get a level. Just remember. 

Rule number 1. Why is it a Civet track? Because it is a Civet track. 

Rule number 2. Trust your gut. Go with your sub-conscious. But no, we would write the correct answer, then scratch it out and write something else.

During the assessment, you want to beat yourself up because of the stupid mistakes you make and for not following your gut. ALWAYS STAY WITH YOUR FIRST ANSWER. I think that is something we all learned this week as well. Despite everything, we made it and we officially got our track and sign level badges. 

Celebrations took place at Mahlahla Lodge where there was a Karaoke night. Myself, Matty and Sophi aren’t only trackers, apparently we can sing as well. Because we are in Africa, Matty and I sang “Can you feel the love tonight” from Elton John in the Lion King. Our audiences’ hearts melted while they sang together with us while swinging left and right with their cellphone flashes on. Sophi on the other hand who’s hips didn’t lie – shook up the crowd with “Waka Waka” by Shakira. 

Good news for all the audience is that we are planning on bringing out an album. We are still finalising agreements with Bushwise, GVI and Mahlahla. Watch this space.

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