Key to many of the Common Tracks of Southern Africa’s Wildlife
A few things you should know before you use this key:
- This key is designed for adults only (i.e. it will not effectively identify the tracks of most young animals), but where there are young animals, their parents are usually nearby, so look around for the tracks of others that may belong to the same species.
- The tracks described are ‘typical’ tracks made on relatively firm substrates. Soft substrates like mud and loose sand will make the tracks look bigger so take that into account.
- ‘Proximal’ means closer to the body – usually refers to the back of the track or the back of a specific pad.
- ‘Distal’ is the opposite, referring to parts furthest from the body.
- The ‘Intermediate pad’ is the main pad directly behind the toes – i.e. the part on a dog’s track that is not toes or claws.
- ‘Proximal pads’ are anything behind that (excepting of course toes in the case of animals like mongooses).
- Unless specified otherwise, all track lengths include claw marks.
- In most cases additional clues to the identity of a track like habitat, gregarious/solitary, social structure, activity period, etc, are not mentioned but should naturally be used to facilitate your identification.
- For birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, the key is far from comprehensive but should at least lead you in the right direction.
- Individuals within a species vary geographically and within a local population so this key will not definitively identify every track you come across. If you are in doubt about which choice to make, choose one and if it doesn’t end in a track like yours, go back and try the other one.