Alex van den Heever on Animal Tracking: What the Ancient Skill Can Teach Us About Each Other

Alex van den Heever on Animal Tracking: What the Ancient Skill Can Teach Us About Each Other

Alex has a fascinating story. He’s a master tracker in South Africa. He started his career in 1995 at the world-renowned Game Reserve Londolozi. He has spent the last 25 years perfecting the skills of wildlife tracking. He has dedicated much of his life to learning this ancient skill. He eventually qualified as one of a handful of tracker assessors, the youngest ever to achieve this feat. Over the last two decades, Alex has tracked jaguars in the Amazon jungle, bears in California, grizzlies and wolves in Montana, pumas in Patagonia, and the famous black mane lions of the Kalahari.

We go deep into what it takes to be a master tracker, what the skills and attributes are that make someone good at this incredibly nuanced and intuitive skill that can only really be learned with deliberate practice.

Please enjoy!



Full Episode

Guest Links

Show Notes

  • What does it take to be a master tracker? (3:07-5:30)
  • Alex elaborates on the importance of being intuitive. (5:30-6:35)
  • Understand the rules before being creative with the art or information you’re given. (6:35-7:04)
  • Alex tells us more about the mental process when tracking. (7:05-10:50)
  • Where does one start to learn tracking as a skill? (11:00-12:50)
  • The components of tracking. (12:50-14:24)
  • What does a day-to-day learning experience look like for a tracker in training? (14:28-16:50)
  • How does intrinsic motivation separate a good tracker from an excellent tracker? (16:50-20:18)
  • What does it take to be a naturally great teacher or mentor? (20:19-22:20)
  • Turning points in Alex’s relationship with his mentor. (22:21-23:40)
  • Alex’s insights into relationships between people from different races. (23:41-26:00)
  • What is a good tracking plan? (26:04-27:34)
  • Dreaming about the hunt. (27:35-31:59)
  • Is it possible to connect with animals spiritually or emotionally? (32:00-33:35)
  • Effortful practice. (33:40-3:42)
  • Believing in yourself and that everything will work out. (36:43-41:31)
  • The role of luck. (41:32-43:04)
  • What does it mean to pass a tracker’s test? (43:05-49:08)
  • The feeling of finding the right track/path. (49:10-51:34)
  • Tracking bears in the Californian High Desert. (51:39-54:17)
  • How Renias came up with his plan to track down bears he had never seen (54:20-55:45)
  • Playing out a scenario vs jumping to conclusions. (55:46-57:52)
  • Tracking a puma in Patagonia. (57:52-1:05:09)
  • Alex elaborates on the importance of humility. (1:05:10-1:07:20)
  • The five elements of tracking. (1:07:22-1:08:40)
  • The role family and friends played for Alex. (1:08:45-1:12:48)
  • Changing a Leopard’s spots. (1:12:50-1:18:39)

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