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What is Tracking the Wild?

Tracking the Wild is a smartphone app and interactive website which allows you to document and share all of your wildlife sightings on the go. It is designed to maximize your experience when visiting parks and nature reserves, being both easy to use and packed with amazing features. Through the use of our mobile app and website, our goal is to build a community of wildlife lovers who can not only gain a greater appreciation for all types of wildlife, but can also help to crowd source the valuable data needed to protect our world’s biodiversity. Watch our explainer video here.

How do I sign up?

You can sign up to Tracking the Wild with one of your existing online accounts including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo! If you do not have one of these accounts, or prefer not to use them, then sign up using your own email address and a password. Watch our account setup explainer video here.

Why should I fill out my account settings page?

Once you have signed up to Tracking the Wild, you can change your user name and profile photo by clicking on the “settings” button at the top of the screen. You can then add some information about yourself that will appear on your profile page. This is what everyone sees when they click on your profile picture. It is also a great opportunity to promote your company, website or blog. Additionally use it to manage your social media preferences as well as adding any professional accreditations.

How do I view sightings?

You can view all sightings by clicking on “View recent sightings” from the home page or by selecting “All Sightings” from the “Sightings” menu. You can filter these sightings by using the options in the left-hand panel. This will allow you to see sightings in a particular park, for a specific mammal or bird or just by the most recent postings. Selecting a sighting will enlarge the image. Plus for each sighting you have the option to add your comments, suggest a species identity and “like” it. Watch our view sightings explainer video here.

How can I show appreciation for another user’s sighting?

Users can add appreciative or interesting comments to other user’s sightings. They can also help to suggest an identity for a species if the user does not know what they have seen. Admiration for good sightings or photos can be shown by clicking on the heart icon to “like” the photo. 

How do I add a new sighting?

You must be signed in before you can submit a new sighting. Once you have signed in, you can select “Add New Sighting” from the “Sightings” menu. Next, you need to fill out the new sighting form to submit as much information as you can about your sighting.  First, you can attach photos and video if you have them, if there is metadata available then this will automatically populate the location of the sighting and also the date and time. If you do not have a photo, or the photo was taken on a non-GPS enabled device, then you will need to manually input the location information. This is the most important piece of information so try and be as accurate as you can. You also need to select the category of animal as well as the species. Don’t worry if you don’t know, you can just check the box to ask the Tracking the Wild users to help you. Finally choosing the date and time of the sighting is the last piece of compulsory information to fill out. If you can add any other details such as visibility or number of animals then that would be great. Go ahead and save your sighting to submit it to the Tracking the Wild database. Please note that if you have not completed the required fields (location, category, species, time and date) then your sighting will not save. Watch our add sighting explainer video here.

Can I add my video to my sighting?

Yes, you can add video to your sighting in the same way as you add a photo in your “add new sighting” screen. By default this video will be added to the Tracking the Wild YouTube channel, should you prefer to add the video to your own personal YouTube channel instead, then you will need to link your YouTube account in your Account Settings page. Please bear in mind that we only want videos that are directly related to your sighting.

What type of photo should I add to my sighting?

The best photos are those where the species can clearly be seen, however we appreciate that sometimes animals do not want to hang around to be photographed! Please try to avoid adding photos that include people; instead crop your photo so that the animal can remain as the focus of the sighting. We also request that you do not post any images that may cause offense to other users, and that you do not add photos of dead animals except those where the animal has become a food source for other species within their natural environment. Remember, any photo you add must be your own work, or you must have permission from the original photographer to use the image. 

How do you treat submissions of endangered species?

Tracking the Wild provides a safe platform to share wildlife sightings.

Tracking the Wild does not allow the posting of rhino sightings. The location specific information related to vulnerable or endangered species is disabled for public users where it is felt that revealing their location could lead to harm being caused to them. Tracking the Wild will use information from the park’s management; the ADU and other sources to determine which species fall into this vulnerable category. Location details for sightings outside of parks and nature reserves will not be made available to public users.

Tracking the Wild does not recommend people share wildlife sightings on standard social media platforms due to the risk they pose to endangered wildlife by unknowingly posting precise location information that can be embedded in the photo metadata.

If you have more questions or are part of an organization that would like to work with us regarding this then please email us at

Does the Tracking the Wild app help poachers?

No, and this is why:

Standard social media and messaging platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp etc. have not been designed for wildlife sightings and therefore do not have the necessary controls in place to manage sensitive data relating to vulnerable/endangered species. Furthermore, the unstructured wildlife sightings data generated on standard social media platforms makes it very difficult to be used by conservation researchers. Therefore, when we built Tracking the Wild, we specifically set out to build a safe alternative to standard social media platforms that will not compromise the safety of vulnerable/endangered species.

Tracking the Wild is a safe way to share your wildlife sightings because unlike standard social media platforms, we carefully manage which species location details are made public. Our platform does this on a species by species and park by park basis. This allows us to hide the location details of some or even all the species within a park. Furthermore, we do not permit any rhino sightings to be posted and also withhold the location of any species that is outside of a protected area or species that have not yet been identified. By taking this approach, Tracking the Wild provides the public with a platform where they can safely share their sightings and simultaneously contribute vast amounts of valuable data to conservation research.

How does Tracking the Wild manage data security?

We take data security very seriously at Tracking the Wild. We do this to ensure that both our sightings and users data is secure. These are the steps we have taken to ensure our data security:

  • - Sightings Data:
    • - We make use of Extended Validation SSL encryption to encrypt all connections to our server
    • - We encrypt all of our sighting's location data
    • - Only the directors of Tracking the Wild and our IT team have direct have access to our sighting's database
    • - We only share wildlife sightings data with reputable conservation organisations
  • - User Data:
    • - We make use of Extended Validation SSL encryption to encrypt all connections to our server
    • - We allow users to login via the following secure platforms: Facebook, Twitter & Google
    • - For users that login with a username & password, all passwords are encrypted

Why can't I see the location details for a sighting?

There are a few reasons why you may not be able to see any location details for a sighting:

  • - If you are not a registered user, or not logged into the website/app then sighting location details will not be shown.
  • - If revealing a species location could endanger the species then their location details will be hidden. This is managed for every species within every park/reserve.
  • - The location of sightings outside protected areas (parks/reserves) is hidden.
  • - If a species has not yet been identified then the location details will be hidden.
  • - Park management can request for the location details to be hidden of some or all species within their reserve.

Can I submit photos of my pet?

No, unfortunately we do not include domestic animals in our species database. Tracking the Wild focuses purely on species that are found in the wild within parks and game reserves in Southern Africa. We have created species lists specific to the animals found in each park or reserve to better help you to identify your animal sighting. Your sighting must fall into one of our three categories; birds, mammals or reptiles.

What should I do if I have a sighting that is outside of a park or nature reserve?

As part of our ongoing commitment to conservation and research, we support the submission of interesting sightings that are of value to the University of Cape Town’s Animal Demographic Unit. To this end, we understand that such sightings can be made outside of the listed Tracking the Wild parks or nature reserves.

What does it mean if a sighting is “unidentified”?

If you do not know or are unsure of the exact species in your sighting you can ask for help from other Tracking the Wild users by ticking the “Help me identify this species” box when you add your sighting. This will mark your sighting as “unidentified” so other users know to make suggestions about what it could be. They will enter a species suggestion based on the animals that are found in the park where you had the sighting. We suggest that you wait until you have received two or more matching suggestions. Then, if you agree, it is up to you to update your sighting with the suggested species. 

There is incorrect or missing data on the park map, how can this be fixed?

Our platform uses OpenStreetMap (OSM). OSM is the most extensive, community-generated mapping solution in the world and is fast becoming a major competitor in the mapping world. We aim to keep the maps as detailed and up-to-date as possible. Should you notice incorrect or missing data in any of the park maps then we would appreciate your contributions to additional details such as roads, buildings and points of interest. Any updates you make will reflect on our website maps within 24 hours and roughly every month for our apps offline maps. 

Edit the map

About OSM

OSM user guide

Why is the park I visit/visited not listed?

Our initial aim is to feature the majority of South Africa’s national and major provincial parks. We will also be expanding our parks list to include those in other southern African countries. We are adding parks on a regular basis, however if there is a park that you feel should be listed please contact us on

What should I do if I encounter copyrighted, inappropriate or inaccurate content?

If you come across a photo that a user does not have the rights to share, or in the case that someone has disregarded our terms & conditions, you can send us an email with the URL of the specific sighting to

What mobile platforms do you support?

Our Tracking the Wild App is currently available to Android and iPhone. It can be downloaded from Google Play or from the Apple App Store. We are always striving to push the boundaries for the types of devices that we can use to help document wildlife sightings; you can keep updated via our social networks or subscribe to our newsletter/blog.

What if I don't have a smartphone?

You can still submit all of your sightings and view other’s sightings via our website, just sign up for an account and get started!


© 2013 Tracking the Wild