(Note: see bellow English translation of this page)

Llevo 30 años saliendo al campo tras el rastro de los osos, varias veces al año, con los hermanos Alfonso y Roberto Hartasánchez. Alfonso empezó su profesión de rastreador en el FAPAS en 1985. Bueno, pues el primer oso que vi con él fue en 2011, justo en el mismo sitio al que fuimos Rober y yo en 1971, con 18 años, “a ver osos” y luego seguimos yendo todos los años. Hasta hoy.

No es que los del FAPAS seamos unos mantas. No. Y no es cierto que no “viera” osos. Vaya que si los veía. A cada pasó Fonso me los enseñaba. Se agachaba, miraba un tronco,  examinaba las ramas de un cerezo, se detenía en una alambrada y con sus palabras, yo, vulgar mortal, empezaba “a ver” osos subiendo, bajando, corriendo, comiendo, peleando, amando, mirando, y sentía su presencia, estuviera el dueño de los rastros “viéndome” a través de mis moléculas que llegaban a su poderoso olfato, o no, porque el rastro fuera de varios días o semanas. Pero allí estaban, las huellas, los arañazos, las ramas rotas, los pelos. Por los indicios, Fonso deduce movimientos, tamaños, edades, comportamientos y hasta identidades de los ejemplares.

Tras varias horas siguiendo y “viendo” osos a través de sus rastros la necesidad del “contacto visual” desaparece. Y es que leer en ellos aporta una información mucho más sublime que el mero avistamiento. De modo que cuando Fonso se percataba que el animal debía andar cerca y me decía “vámonos, que aquí molestamos”, nunca me sentí frustrado, sino todo lo contrario. La retirada no la sentía como renunciar a algo, porque “lo visto” con el cerebro, que no con los ojos,  ya me había trasladado a otra dimensión, la del mundo mágico de la vida salvaje libre.

El Tracking, como se dice internacionalmente al rastreo, es mucho más que seguir una huella. Es el ejercició mental que conecta la energía de la vida con la inteligencia. En el desarrollo de las capacidades de interpretar los signos que unos animales dejan a otros, está la clave de la supervivencia. Para eso sirven los rastros, los olores, los colores y los sonidos en la naturaleza. Y en el caso de los humanos han servido para desarrollar nuestras neuronas hasta ser animales pensantes. Nuestra especie ha elevado el rastreo a niveles subliminales de complejidad, plasmados, sin ir más lejos, en que puedas estar leyendo signos que coloco según el código de la escritura y  dejo arañando un teclado conectado a un sistema de circuitos, órbitas, ondas y routers que, si lo piensas bien, te deja helado, a qué punto lo que empezó siendo una señal en el suelo ha acabado en la más compleja de las redes de comunicación que imaginar se pueda.

Wildlife Tracking: Understanding theNature of Observations Based on Animal Movements

Grandes rastreadores en España (si sabes de alguno más a la altura de estos maestros, dimelo que ya le coloco aquí):

WEB de Benjamín Sanz

WEB de José María Galán

PDF sobre rastreo de José María Galán

Resumen en imágenes del I Encuentro Europeo de Rastreo y la Evaluación Track and Sign que han tenido lugar en Doñana (España) del 8 al 17 de octubre de 2014, del Blog Genetta

I have been searching for bears for over three decades. Several times a year I would head off into the mountains with the Hartasánchez brothers, Alfonso and Roberto. The older of them, Alfonso, started work as a wild animal tracker at the FAPAS environmentalist association (whose abbreviation means “Asturian Fund for wildlife protection” in Spanish) back in 1985.

Even though I my efforts have been regular throughout this period, my first bear sighting did not occur until 2011. I still clearly recall how Alfonso was my walking companion on that occasion, when we finally achieved a sighting of the big European brown bear. Just at the same location from which Roberto, his brother, and myself have been trying to spot bears since 1971.  I was only 18 years old then.

It does not mean that FAPAS members, me included, were unable to find them because of our own insufficient ability. That was definitively not the reason. I could not physically see bears but I was deeply convinced that they were there. “Fonso”, as he is affectionately called, made me sense with each step we took the close presence of them.  After bending down to scan an old trunk and examining the branches of a cherry tree he unexpectedly stopped at a wire fence, trying to find any sort of marks or traces on it.  Just a few words given by the skilled tracker were sufficient then to ensure this humble learner, myself, who listened intently to his clever explanations, which enabled me to virtually see the shy plantigrade next to us. I could clearly imagine the bear performing its everyday activities like eating, battling for territory or even devoted to the mission of love. Imaginary views in which they could be progressing uphill in a wearily way, going down the mountain slope. It seemed as if they stayed staring at me, making me feel as some type of moving target just placed at the precise point where the tracks’ owner  was aiming to its deep gaze. My own molecules moved by the wind plus the bear’s keen sense of smell enabled it could occur when the traces left behind were recent enough. After following up signs, such as tracks, scratches, broken branches or bristles, Alfonso was perfectly qualified to find out where they are moving along, their size, how old the specimen were, predict their behavior or even revealing the identities of individual bears.

As a general rule, after having spent several hours using tracking techniques in search of wild species, the need for a direct sighting of them becomes less important, as the gradual development of our tracker skills grows. In fact, knowing about bears enough to be able to find out their presence from trails is many times much more rewarding than simply reaching direct views of them. That is why if Alfonso noticed that some individual was too near and immediately said “Let’s get out of here, we might be bothering them”, I never felt disappointed myself, just the opposite. However, our withdrawal from there was not interpreted by us then as to renounce something. All of those pictures recreated by our own mind, not seen through the eyes, had already transferred us to another part of a magic world. The magical world of free wildlife.

The tracking, as internationally this sort of tracing wildlife is referred to, comprises much more facets than simply trying to follow a track. It is actually a mental exercise for linking energy of life and human intelligence. Generally speaking, the key to survival lies on the development of capabilities for reading signs that any animal species could mark on each other. Being able to interpret, in addition to the said tracks, other nature’s signals such as smells, colours or even sounds coming for our natural environment is very useful for this purpose. In the specific case of humans, evolution of tracker quality has lead us to the neuronal stimulation of our brain for finally becoming the “thinking creatures” we currently are. Following up on this basic idea, the level of tracking techniques has been greatly increased thanks to the contribution of the human race. Unsuspected levels of complexity have been definitively reached as for example in the fact that you can be reading now these signs, letters, I have previously put here according to the writing rules. All these letters have been generated by “scratching” or pushing buttons connected to a sort of package with electrical circuits, orbits, waves and routers that, if you think about it, is absolutely amazing to notice how interpreting information from a simple track printed on the floor, the most sophisticated communication network you could ever imagine was successfully created.

(English translation made by Michael Willet and David Rios. Thanks!)