ANIMAL SPOOR

It is interesting to note that the word spoor, commonly used in South African English, originated c. 1823, from the Afrikaans spoor, which developed from Middle Dutch spor, which has the same linguistic derivation as the Old English spor, all meaning a ‘footprint’ or a ‘track’ which can be traced. Here spoor refers to the visible tracks of animals that allow us a glimpse of their presence even though they may have left an area.

These are tracks of an unidentified bird on a beach:

Snails and other creatures have created a veritable highway on the sand:

It is exciting to come across the tracks of animals, such as this antelope, while driving through a game reserve.

Of course this generally means that one cannot get out to look at them more closely or even to measure them, but with time, one can learn to tell one animal from another.

This is the spoor of a Cape Mountain Zebra:

Because we had seen one nearby, we can reasonably assume that this is the track of a Black-backed Jackal:

Selecting these images from hundreds of photographs of birds, animals and insects, has made me realise that photographing animal tracks, or spoor, may be a worthwhile activity in the future.

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