This post is the English (kind of) translation of this one.
It talks about my personal experience in the First Iberian Symposium of Tracking Fauna in 2019. Maybe is not very well-known yet, but some days after this event, the Iberian Tracking Society (SIRA- Sociedad Ibérica de Rastreo) was constituted!
So, let’s begin saying that this great event took place in Bagà (Barcelona) during the 25th, 26th and 27th of January.
As a woman , I loved to see that there were lots of tracker girls.
In the morning there was an activity that wasn’t included in the Symposium but I went because it was an indoor tracking workshop!
It was organized by two well-known Spanish trackers: Luisa Abenza and Benjamín Sanz.
Luisa is an amazing tracker and has a blog named Genetta Rastreo where explains all the things that she does regarding the tracking and personal thoughts. Also she’s the author of the book Aves que dejan huella (Birds that leave tracks) that details the most common bird tracks. Also, if you love corvids, she’s your person!
Benjamín is an experienced 4×4 tracker that has the blog Muskari Rastros where you can find lots of information-pay attention to his discovers regarding the traces that can leave a wild board and also all the paw print molds that you can buy. He’s also one of the authors of the Guía de mamíferos terrestres. Península Ibérica y Baleares. It’s a guide of wild land mammals in the Iberian Peninsula (fyi: that means Spain+Portugal) and the Balearic Islands. Lots of information at your fingertips!
The workshop was split in two parts: one more academic and one more practical.
The academic part was the theory of what does it mean tracking animals and how to identify them and the practical part was a game structured in seven scenarios with several tracks marked in mood, feathers, skulls, fur and droppings. So the participants had to identify in each scenario what species where there.
I had a great time and it was a nice way to know my colleagues for all the weekend.
In the afternoon, there was the official opening of the Symposium. I want to highlight the speech that did José Carlos de la Fuente.
He’s a great tracker, wild guide tourism in Ecowildlife and a great writer -you can find several reports in the Spanish magazine named Quercus (great publication that talks about environment, conservation, nature observation and nature defense). And apart from all these amazing things…he was the main “guilty” that I was there : “Thanks dude!” 😉
Also I want to highlight Daniel Fernández from GRENP that is the organization that did all the tough work of arranging everything (apart from the city hall and the Nature Tourism Office) I have just to say that he’s a very talented herpetologist!
After the opening, we begun directly with the first talk with José M. Galán.
He’s one of the most well-known Doñana’s National Park guides, a forest engineer, one of the coordinators and teachers of CyberTracker in Spain and a greeeat tracker!
As you can see, till now everybody is a great tracker, soooo, maybe I’m not very objective but…’cmon all they can recognize whatever you find in a path and can tell you what happened!!
José M. Galán talked about the Euroscout Project of the MITECO (that’s the Spanish Ministry of Environment) This project is included in the “Plan de Acción español contra el tráfico ilegal y el furtivismo internacional de especies silvestres” (Spanish action plan against the international illegal trade and the poaching of wild species)
The Euroscout Project by iself ,helps the rhino conservation in Africa teaching local rangers and offering them resources to attack the illegal trade of this magnificent animal in its origin.
After this talk, Benjamín Sanz presented his study about the marks that wild boars can leave on trees. You can read it here.
Spoiler alert: wild boars do more than marking teeth on wood.
Following this topic, it was the turn of Francisco José García of Grupo de Seguimiento de la Biodiversidad de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Biodiversity tracking group of the Complutenses’s University in Madrid)
He showed us how powerful is the process of tracking when you want to do any conservation project and also gave us the idea of how important is to think about a scientific design for analyzing the results.
I founded one radio station that interviewed him and he talked about the huge problem that exists currently with raccons in Madrid. Sorry is just in Spanish 😦
The last speaker of the day was Jordi Garcia Petit , the manager of the Parc Natural del Cadí-Moixeró (Cadí-Moixeró’s Natural Park) and he did a masterclass of what we could see in the park… wolf also included!
I realized that I’ve just visited the park a couple times before, so I received several suggestions from my colleagues for exploring it more. If you come to Bagà , you can visit the Information Office that is full of useful info.
This new day began with Esteban San Román. He talked about how camera traps are a great tool for wildlife research whether is a general survey or is in a specific study.
He used this technology in several situations: for defeating rarities, for controlling the migration or even determinate the most active hour for a hide.
Thanks to his experience, he gave us a piece of advice of using the black light for shooting if we want a quicker answer of those de devices. Sincerely, have no idea, so I noted down just in case if someday I have to use it. Who knows?
After this topic, Luisa Abenza talked about one of the tough things that you can find in your field trips: bird tracks.
Following her, Manuel Sosa talked about how relevant is the tramp cam position for obtaining representative data for its analysis.
Manuel Sosa explaining how to locate the camera traps.
Following this speech, Santiago Palazón-Miñano, a fauna technician of Departament de Territori i Sostenibilidad DTES of the Generalitat de Cataluña (the Catalan Government) , explained us the tracking methods to do the surveys of bears in the Life’s Pyros Project.
The goal of this project is the reintroduction of the brown bear in the Pyrenees. Its website is in English so, it will be easier if you want to follow it up . I’m sorry to say that nowadays the alfa male named Pyros is considered deceased because the trackers don’t have any info about him since one year.
The next talk was done by Javier Vázquez (rastreo.eu) and he exposed the need of homogenize the terminology currently used by the tracker community. As an examples, he talked about the concepts of icnotype (graphic representation as a footprint detailed with the representative characters that defines it) and icnocenosis-group of different footprints present in a substrate)
I’m not a professional so I thought that there were more consensus about that…but…, it was funny when Javier asked to the assistants what a posterior pad was and there were more than one answer! OMG!
After Javier, Eloïsa Matheu (Alosa Sonora) added the auditory part of the tracking concept.
She’s one of the most well known biologist that works in recording soundscape here in Spain.
This part of the tracking isn’t unusual if you think about whales seguimientos with eco records within a family between calfs and adults. But if you think about bird and amphibian records, there no much history but she’s working on it!
The following presentation was JM Galán. He came back to the scenario with a very subtile comment “Someone can dim the lights?” and then he teleported us to an ancient cave just to make us think about the origin of the symbolic thought. Cool!
Got back in the s. XXI, we went to the exposition room to hear the presentations of the posters of some colleagues:
After all the expositions, we came back to the auditorium to listen to Iván Salgado (MNCN-CSIC) He explained that the use of marmoline is useful to calculate the usability of the fauna paths for the animals. In this case, he talked about the usability of the high speed train railway by the animals.
The thing that it liked me the most was that Ivan designed maps very detailed so he knew who/when/where an individual pass throw this lineal structure that is a railway. I realized that it was a very cheap and feasible method soooo, what are the administrations waiting for doing it ?
After this talk, Ángel Javier España (Libro Carnívoros ibéricos de Castilla y León y 10 Áreas Naturales para descubrirlos ) insisted on how important is to be a good tracker for a correct animal identification.
For illustrating this, he took the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) as an example. A great example, btw!
He talked about several concepts and the truth is that it’s a huge work trying to standardize the nomenclature in this field (as did Javier Vázquez explained in a talk before)
In this case, he defined:
- The integration of all traces as the union of different tracks and signs to ensure the identification of the animal. Of course, if you want a 100% reliable you can earn some money and take the samples and then do a DNA analyse 😉
- The changeability of the traces due to atmospheric agent. For example, you can wrongly determined that one dropping is as an “old dropping” when in fact it’s a “recent dropping” because you found it on a hot day.
- The connection of several traces can reinforce the behaviour that one animal can have, e.g. a wolf urines and scratches the ground to increase its presence against any competitor.
My personal experience: a “fresh dropping” in summer /in Spain/ is like a chocolate doughnut: crunchy outside and soft inside. This is what my dearests muses Judit and Marta told me years ago when they introduce me in this marvelous world of tracking!
After this talking about an animal typically Iberian we jumped to…Colombia!
José Fernando Navarro went up to the scenario and he gained my attention in just 30 sg! (Rastreo Colombia,Grupo de Investigación Medio Ambiente y Sociedad de la Universidad de Anioquia en Colombia, Manual de huellas de algunos mamíferos terrestres en Colombia)
He talked about the uses of the applied geometric morphometry when you’re tracking sp like the amazing jaguar. This method consisted of establishing linear paths with footprints stations to obtain the footprints of the animal. This system could be a cheap way to complement other methodologies as the photo tramp, that are usually more expensive.
I’m afraid I don’t know the exact number of jaguars, but I find this …so their population is not good.
After José Fernando, it was the turn of José Carlos!
This talk was the last one, so he closed the Symposium with a masterclass of the different patterns of movements than a quadruped land mammal can do. He showed the gaits continuous (as the walk and the trot) and discontinuous (as the gallop)
It made me reflect on how important is to know how an animal moves. So, if you track one animal and you realize that there’s anything “different” in its pattern, you can theorize that it has stopped for smelling a predator, or detecting food …whatever!
Just for finishing the event, I want to show you how the outdoor was and also my first footprint of a squirrel!!