Wildlife tracking is an ancient human activity where science meets art—where quantitative analysis and deductive logic meets interpretation, imagination, and story telling. Tracking is about discerning the earthen biographies of our non-human (and human!) neighbors by examining details of the landscape, and beginning to build relationship with those who might often be around us but who are rarely seen. Wildlife tracking is an essential skill for building situational awareness, entering into the role of hunter or scout in an ethical manner, and many other endeavors such as citizen science, bird-watching, and wildlife photography. It is also a means to expand one’s notion of what language is, and therefore can powerfully de-center the human.
At this gathering we also want to explore an additional, enigmatic effect of tracking. Because of the somatic and perceptual nature of tracking, the tracker is engaged in several endeavors that seem to calm the nervous system. One of these is pattern recognition, and another is the endeavor of scanning the sensory field, locating, and orienting to new stimulus, which makes it similar to EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) which is used to help process trauma. Although much research has recently been devoted to the psychological effects of nature immersion, we don’t know of similar research on tracking specifically. However, there is anecdotal evidence that tracking can be a powerful healing modality, as well as a powerful way to ground into a place by meeting some of its inhabitants through their tracks, traces, and signs.
Pınar Ateş Sinopoulos-Lloyd and So Sinopoulos-Lloyd