Funday Times

Tracking Mammals

Endangered Animals of Sri Lanka
Written by Rainforest Rescue International Illustration by Asia Hewapathirana

It’s very easy to live life completely unaware of the wildlife that surrounds you. We know a lot about our cats and dogs and of course each other, but very little about other mammals that live silently and often unnoticed among us.

A great way to find out more and have some fun out of doors is to track mammals. Tracking mammals takes you off the beaten track and gives you a great insight into their world. Just like humans, animals leave signs of wherever they’ve been;


Each species of mammal has a unique footprint, try thinking about the best places to find them. A great place to start is near water. All animals need to drink and usually the ground surrounding lakes and rivers is soft enough to leave really clear prints. Mud, soil and wet sand also hold animal prints well.
Check to see how fresh the tracks are. If any plants or leaves stepped on by the animal are dead, you know they haven’t walked through the area recently.


Studying mammal droppings is a great way to identify the species. You can tell how big the animal is by the size of its dropping and often what it eats. For example a vegetarian species will leave waste that looks a lot like straw. Be careful not to handle any droppings as they can contain harmful levels of bacteria.

Food remnants:

A good way to establish what species of mammals are around is to look out for signs of feeding. Animals feeding on nuts and berries often drop them or leave shells behind, the bark of trees can be ripped or gnawed and occasionally you may see fur, feather or bone remains; evidence a carnivore has killed in the area.

Top tips:

  • Never go alone: If off in search of mammals always take a friend or adult with you and let someone know where you’re going.
  • Dress appropriately: Don’t wear bright colours, try your best to camouflage
    yourself with the surrounding environment to ensure you don’t frighten any animals away.
  • Stay quiet: Keep talking to a minimum, tread softly and switch your mobile phone to silent.
  • Take care of the environment: Tracking can be hungry work, if you’re having a picnic be sure to take any rubbish home with you.

Discover more about Sri Lanka’s endangered animals on our blog:

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