'Tracking' is a body of work about learning to track animals, and more broadly learning to become a Trails guide - someone who takes people on guided walks in the African bush. The texts that appear here are extracts from a longer piece and are randomised, meaning they appear in random order. You are invited to click through to the next text, but the panels do not construct a linear narrative, and will not appear in the same order twice.
Are full of discord and slaughter. The baboons live in a nightly cauldron of domestic violence. We hear the rigid shouts, more vocal claps than cries, of the males, the screech of the young baboons as their mothers are clawed into submission.
The wife-battering of the baboons is joined by the thrashing and chewing of the impala, who are browsers and who strip the leaves of the trees around the tent with an outsize shear. When the elephant’s trumpeting comes the air is electric, anticipatory. They are feeding near the camp. The sound of the branches breaking under the assault from their trunks has the richochet crack of gunshot.
At first we sleep badly, woken by any and all of these sounds. But by the end of the second week we sleep through them. Some of us hear sounds that others miss and vice versa. The two Shangaan women who work in the kitchen cannot bear the sound of the lion. Lion he keep me awake all night, Elisa tells me, grimacing.
Most creatures that are killed by other animals die in the night. The nights are long, twelve hours, and that is a long time to stay alive, I think, especially when the lion and leopard are also crepuscular hunters. So in total there are around 14 hours a day, perhaps 15, when prey animals cannot relax. When we cross paths in the early morning light I say to Steve, our camp's resident impala ram, glad you made it through another night.