to Visual Tracking
rarely stand and fight they make raids and return to their hideouts as
quickly as possible. To make contact with them is difficult. One of the
methods used to hunt down and kill the Terrs is by tracking. Tracking is
used by Africans normally when hunting animals or finding strayed stock.
Animals do not conceal their tracks and have set characteristics which,
when known to the trackers, make animal hunting comparatively easy.
Tracking Terrs is very much more difficult. Realizing that the
Security Forces are using African trackers to hunt them down, the
Terrorist gangs are using all sorts of methods to conceal their tracks.
Following the comparatively ill-defined human fool prints, as compared
with the well-defined hoof-marks made by game, is difficult enough
without the Terrs concealing their tracks. Therefore first-class
trackers must he used. Many Africans can track, but the first-class
tracker is not found in the average African. He is born, and no amount
of practice and experience will make the average tracker as good as the
The method of making contact with gangs by
tracking is nevertheless very successful and every effort must be made
to keep up the morale of the trackers and realize their importance in
patrols. They are part of the team.
Handling of Trackers
Africans is simple, not very intelligent, but very willing if treated in
the right way. Do not regard him as a slave but as an equal. You will
find that most Africans have an innate respect for the White Man. This
respect is easily increased or destroyed, depending on the treatment
given to them.
respect will be destroyed if familiarity is shown or they are allowed to
take liberties. This does not mean that they should not be spoken to or
offered cigarettes. They appreciate cheerfulness and the odd joke. They have a good sense of humor which,
although not entirely
similar to that of the
White Man, is none the less present. They dislike being sworn at, even in fun,
and cannot understand sarcasm.
Small things, such as making them
stand up when spoken to, are important. They should come under
and other members
of the patrol
should understand this.
The African Mentality
It must be understood that
the African has a completely
view of life and
code of morals from ours. He does not think of the future, which the
White Man has difficulty in understanding and finds irritating.
A high standard of morale among trackers must be maintained,
and this will depend mainly
on how the Europeans in the patrol behave. They like to air their troubles,
and these must be listened to.
Although their physical needs are a great deal less than ours, do
not disregard the African’s comfort. There is a scale of clothing and
rations for African trackers, and it must he ensured that they get it.
of Correct Trackers- Not all trackers are of the same tribe and
location. Care should therefore be taken that the trackers in
battalions are from the tribes most suited to the terrain
battalion is located. If the tracker is a low land dweller employ him in
similar terrain same for high land dwellers, also try to maintain
integrity of the trackers by keeping similar tribes together.
of Tracking Group in a Patrol- The ideal is a group of three trackers
and one scout or bodyguard. Owing to the shortage of first-class
trackers within the Command, more often only two trackers
and one scout are used.
Formation Using Three Trackers-
A trackers leads the patrol on the tracks which he is following.
Behind the leading tracker is his bodyguard or scout, following the
bodyguard ate. The other two trackers, one watching for tracks breaking
off to the right and the other watching left. Ibis formation is only
used when time patrol is canalized in the forest, and is adapted to suit open country
according to circumstances.
Using Two Trackers- The formation is identical, except that only one
tracker follows the bodyguard and has to watch
tracks breaking right and left.
The Bodyguard- The duty of the bodyguard
is exactly the same as that of a leading scout in a normal patrol. The
trackers all have their eyes to the ground and therefore cannot look out
for ambushers, camps, or the enemy
The Duty of the Trackers-
The duty of the trackers is to track. They should not be made to carry
heavy loads or
become odd-job men. They should be trained in the
use of firearms, silent signals, immediate action drills, and to pass
all information to their patrol commander.
Action on Finding
Upon encountering tracks it is essential that some small time be spent
in studying them, as invaluable information can he obtained, such as
when the gang passed the spot, the numbers, whether they were laden
(i.e. food carriers or armed members), and direction. It is also
important that time spot is fixed on the map.
In tracking down Terrs, persistence, alertness,
silence, and the ability to shoot straight and quickly are important. Be
firm yet fair, and study your trackers for their individual
To move silently and quickly in most parts of the bush is
impossible unless use is made of trails. There
are a considerable number of paths in the bush, originally made by big
game during their nightly or
seasonal migrations. Since big game animals find difficultly in climbing or
descending steep, slippery slopes it will be found that game trails are
very easy going, the inclines
the Terrs and our own patrols use these trails when quick, silent
movement is required. Always check for Terrorist tracks when using these
trails and remember that it is on these trails that ambushes are easily
laid, both by security forces and the Terrs, though the latter, to date,
have not taken full advantage of the opportunity offered.
on trails are inclined to be quickly obliterated by game and rain, as
some trails are so wide that there is little overhead cover.
Types of Trails
Ridge Crest Trails- Formed by game along main ridges to enable
movement from one part of the country to another Usually well defined
and useful for rapid movement in thick bush, but not used to a great
extent by the terrs for fear of leaving tracks on the trails used
frequently by security forces.
Contour Trails- Found only in area of shallow valleys
and generally join crests of ridges by following the
contour round the head of the valley. Used by the terrs considerably, to
enable them to have easy routes to their camps
Spur Trails- These follow the small spurs often found
projecting from main
ridges into deep valleys. Often rather vague, but are useful for
crossing heavy country across the grain. Again used considerably by the
Man- Barefoot prints are
soft rounded impressions formed by the heel, ball of foot, or toes.
Women’s tracks are generally smaller and have on the whole two
characteristics. Firstly, they tend to be pigeon-toed and secondly,
their toes are more splayed out than the males.
Due to the fact that most animals have cloven hooves, the impressions
formed on the ground have sharp, clear-cut edges.
The following are signs the experienced
tracker looks for when tracking spoor:
Crushed and bent grass and vegetation
Broken twigs and leaves
Mud displaced from streams
The state of dew on a trail
Mud or scratches on stones or logs
Moss scraped from trees
Men- Points to observe are skid marks, depth of impressions, running on
balls of feet and toes. Splayed out toes and badly damaged vegetation
with resultant lack of concealment of trail.
Men- Short footsteps, deeper impressions than normal in soft ground and
toes splayed out.
Age of Tracks
Weather: The state of the weather- rain, wind, sunshine- should
always be recorded in one’s mind as it is one of the most important
points in deciding the age of a track.
Vegetation: The state and position of trodden vegetation; various
grasses have different grades of resilience and only practice and
experience can enable a tracker to use this factor for accurate ageing
of a track.
Impressions in mud: Always note the state of dryness of a track
in mud or soft ground. If the track is very fresh, water would have run
back into the depression made by a foot. Later the water runs back and
later still the mud which has been pushed up round the depression and
the mud kicked forward by the foot leaving the ground begins to dry.
by rain or dripping from mist: By remembering when it last rained, more
accurate judgment of the age of tracks is easy. If the tracks are
pockmarked, obviously they were made before the rain and if they are not pockmarked they were made after the rain. Similarly, by
looking to see if the tracks have been pockmarked by mist dripping from brush, the
age can be better
tracks superimposed: Remember that most animals lie up during the
day and move about at night. Therefore
if human prints on main bush tracks have animal tracks superimposed, and these
tracks show that
the game have moved in both directions, the human
prints are probably at
least one night old.
If the animal tracks show
that game have moved only in one
direction, then the human tracks were probably made during the night, after the game
had moved down to salt or water but before the game moved back.
(f) Cracks in
grass or leaves: An indication of the age of a track may be gained
by the state of dryness of these
fresh they are
green, but after a few days turn a
of sunshine and rain during the last few days should be taken into account.
Leaves covering tracks: In the bush leaves are always falling from the
bushes. The number of leaves that fall depends on wind and rain. By
looking at the number of leaves covering the tracks and taking into
consideration the amount of wind and rain during the past few days,
another indication as to the age of tracks is obtained. Remember the
seasonal characteristics of your operational area; Kenya for example has
no autumn; so the leaves fall from trees all the year round there.
A tracker has many things to consider whilst tracking. He must
possess certain qualities, such as extraordinary eyesight, memory,
intelligence, fitness, and understanding of Nature. Although practice
and experience will make the average man a tracker, he can never be as
good as the born tracker, for the real tracker is born, not made.
African trackers track best in the areas In which they were born, and
when moved to new areas must be given time to become used to the
climatic conditions and the difference in vegetation and soils.
Patience, persistence and acute observation are the basis of good
Terrorist Signs and
The Terrs have their own methods of informing members of their gangs where
they have gone, or where they have hidden their food, and they also have
their own warning system. These can be spotted by an alert patrol. The
examples of signs given below are old and were only effective in certain
areas. Signs vary from area to area and from gang to gang. Patrols
should attempt to recognize new signs and pass back all information
regarding these signs. The interrogation of prisoners
must include the finding out of signs. The examples noted are only given as a guide as to what to expect. All signs are as
inconspicuous as possible in order to conceal them from the security
Signs- Direction signs as below are usually found at track junctions
Bent bamboo; Bent down and pointing in the direction required.
Inconspicuous as it is usually interpreted as having been done by big
Bamboo leaves crossed and pinned to the ground with a twig, the
longest arm of the cross indicating direction.
Bamboo bent across a path indicates either ambush
or warning to Terrs that the path is known to security forces.
food cache sign- Three small holes arc dug at regular distances up the
middle of time path. At right angles to one of these, a hole is dug on
either side of the path. These are lined up with a conspicuous tree or
bamboo in which there is a panga cut. By placing a panga in the cut and
sighting along the blade the direction to a food cache is obtained.
Abandoned hide- A tree near the abandoned hide is
indicated by cutting off a large piece of bark. The lowest branch of the
tree points in the direction of the new hide. The branch merely
indicates the direction. The new hide will not be visible, but by
indicated line, tracks leading to the new hide will be found. The new
hide may be a considerable distance away.
Walking backwards, mainly in soft ground or dusty patches. Note
that the mud flakes being kicked up are kicked up by the heel instead of
the toe. The heel mark lends to be deeper than that of the ball of the
foot and the feet are placed wider apart although the pace is shorter.
Walking on the edges of or astride paths.
Stepping in one another’s tracks-used also to disguise numbers
in a gang.
Use of streams and stream beds.
Splitting up into small groups or individuals over easy tracking
ground or on nearing hideout.
Bent bamboo: Should it be necessary for a gang to cross a wide
path, the last member pulls down a bamboo or bush with ample foliage to
cover the tracks. This also is frequently interpreted as having been
done by big game.
Walking along fallen trees, oven- rocky ground, or stepping from rock to rock.
Stolen cattle: Dragging bush over trail; Splitting herds and
mixing with herds of other
Rear man covering tracks with bamboo leaves;
Gang walking in each others footprints, rear man cutting off the
feet of dead elephant or rhino and tying them to his feet and
obliterating human footprints.
main methods used are:
Concealment of tracks leading to hideout.
Use of many devious entrance tracks.
Sighting hideout in most unlikely places. Usually close to a
commanding position where the gang can lie-up during the daylight hours.
Types of Hideout
Underground ground- soil thrown into the river and the entrance
concealed. In the bush these may be small and accommodate small numbers,
but in Reserves are normally for only one or two men.
Caves under waterfalls- all sizes used.
Hut hideouts in Reserve-holes dug under beds capable of holding
up to five men, having small concealed entrances.
Trees- often two- or three-man hides in holes amongst the roots
of large trees. The shells of burnt-out trees are sometimes used as
sentry boxes or observation posts.
Lie-ups where no form of construction is erected, the gang merely
lying up under naturally thick cover.
Armed members of some gangs live separately from the food carriers. In
many gangs the women members are segregated, and in some cases the gang
leader lives close by them.
Keeping Up to Date
Tracking humans who are always trying to conceal their
tracks is difficult, even for an experienced African tracker, who is
more used to tracking animals. Just as the method of breaking and
entering used by a burglar will often give his identity away to the
Police, so the methods by which a gang conceals its tracks, and the way
it establishes its hideouts, will give away the gang. Therefore it is
essential that all new methods of concealing tracks be brought to the
notice of your tracker, and, conversely, if he finds new methods, the
information should be passed back.
a patrol is sent out with trackers it is essential that the patrol
commander himself has a fair knowledge of tracking. This knowledge may
be more theoretical than practical but he should be able to recognize
signs when pointed out to him by his trackers. As trackers will
sometimes have different opinions as to what certain signs or tracks
indicate, the patrol commander must have sufficient knowledge to make a
British units language difficulties between patrol commander and
trackers can be most tiresome. The good patrol commander will learn
enough of the native dialect to eliminate this difficulty. Just as the
trackers must be patient when tracking so must the patrol commander be
patient when dealing with his trackers. The basis of successful tracking
patrols is the team spirit, which lies within all the members of the