Today, we learned about tracking animals for conservation purposes. Tracking is important for conservation because having awareness of the surrounding dangerous animals is critical to protect the local farmers’ livestock and businesses. In general, in the past, locals have not showed a positive mentality toward these big animals (leopards, lions, etc.). In their eyes, it is a very disappointing and emotional experience to lose livestock that they raised, not to mention the financial loss. Lions, for example, are becoming more of a threat. According to Dr. Florian Weise (Flo), lions are coming up from rivers in Botswana toward farms for easy prey in the form of livestock. This is partly due to some of the local farmers’ lack of herding experience, leading to livestock going far from their paddocks. Livestock without supervision are highly vulnerable to attack from predators. Flo has been studying in Botswana for some years now and tries to make more advanced conservation strategies (such as better herding and tracking) appear more realistic to the average local farmers. Furthermore, he suggests that conservation is truly an issue originating from human activity and seldom from the animals themselves. His work aims to help farmers understand that not every big cat is a “trouble cat.” With various tracking techniques, Flo has persuaded some farmers to show interest and affection for “their” local cats, and some have come to even name the cats in their area. This tends to make the farmers care more about the cats and make farmers reconsider resorting to violence to solve problems.
Animal tracking can tell analysts many things based on predator movement patterns. Typically, an alpha male in a pack will be collared to get a sense of the entire group’s daily behavioral patterns. If an animal is mostly stationary (with a total daily walking distance under 2 km), it might mean the animal is injured, mating, pregnant, or even poached. If an animal is very active and travels a long distance throughout the day, conservationists might conclude that there are strong environmental pressures. Active territorial predators, such as male leopards, may be fleeing for new territory after losing in a dominance display. Awareness of animal threats, in the hands of local farmers, enables them to care more about disappearing species and forces them to be less passive in solving this pressing global issue.