We have just had a great weekend delivering Search & Rescue Training to members of the UK SAR community. Training was delivered in a mixture of sand, grassland and ancient woodland and consisted of 2 very busy days!
Trying to get the rudiments of Tracking across in 2 days is a big ask however, PENCARI recognised the importance of what these SAR volunteers do. Come rain or shine, summer or winter these guys are out there searching for children, walkers or runners and even mentally disturbed persons possibly suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimers who have become disorientated or lost. These teams work alongside Police Search teams and on occasion are asked to assist with the location of the deceased, offering their time and energy to save and preserve life every day of the year without pay and for little or no recognition. Well we couldn’t say no could we…
Our aim was to leave them with a basic understanding of Sign, how to interpret it and recognise it and use it to eliminate openings encountered. This was a crucial part of the training, as many of our SAR teams within the UK will use dogs to Scent Track however, if a change of direction is encountered the importance of recognising Sign consistent to the time frame of the missing person is crucial and can increase the overall speed of the search. With every minute potentially making the difference between life and death, the link between Visual and Scent Tracking and the way that both skills merge could make the difference to a successful outcome or one of failure!
For more information on PENCARI’s Search & Rescue Tracking training please email us at:
or alternatively give us a call on: 01202 946201
We wanted to share our exciting news with you!
We have recently been working with Wilco van Akker from Frostnip Films (frostnipfilms.com). Wilco has been guiding and directing us through the production of a short video that exemplifies the modern capability that is Combat Tracking Information Exploitation (IX).
Filming lasted over a period of days with the video being shot entirely on location in Africa!
To say that we are excited about viewing the final production would be an understatement. Hope you enjoy some of the “stills” from the video?
As soon as the video is complete and ready for screening we shall let you know!
We have mentioned our friends at Sanwild before but these guys are tireless in their pursuit to keep African wildlife safe from the very real and everyday threat of poachers. In this incredible video watch how they are protecting today’s wildlife for this generation and for future generations to come.
These guys need all the support they can get so please take the time to visit their site and make a donation and keep these wonderful animals alive in the habitat that they deserve to live in with the security that will enable our children’s children to enjoy them in the future!
MEDIA RELEASE: 5 NOVEMBER 2014
Rhino and elephant sanctuary faces closure leaving animals vulnerable!
Initiated by the SanWild Wildlife Trust, South Africa’s only dedicated rhino and elephant sanctuary under the control of an animal welfare organization is facing closure unless urgent funding can be secured.
For the past fourteen years the SanWild Wildlife Trust and its handful of donors and supporters have poured their hearts and souls into establishing a protected refuge for injured, orphaned and traumatized wild animals where they can live free and raise their young in South Africa’s Limpopo Province.
The SanWild Wildlife Trust, a registered non-profit animal welfare organization was formed and registered in 2000 and has accumulated over 15 000 acres of Bushveldt with diverse habitat for the benefit or rescued wild animals. The trust provides protection for both the animals and the land and the only beneficiaries of the land are the animals themselves.
SanWild is actively involved in rescue operations both locally and abroad. They are also one of the few organizations that set up sting operations to catch illegal wildlife traders and save highly endangered species such as pangolins, leopards, cheetah, African wild dogs and rhinos.
Today, a large number of endangered species depend on the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary for their survival. Many of these animals face a serious threat from poaching, but the dedication at SanWild has seen these animals flourish under the trust’s protection.
With the exponential growth of illegal rhino poaching SanWild had to redirect a lot of their funding into a specialized counter poaching and K-9 units to protect rhinos and elephants at the sanctuary.
While they had initially believed that they had secured sufficient funding for the increased costs of their operations through a new benefactor, he has defaulted leaving the small charity out of pocket and with huge financial debts.
The financial blow to the SanWild Wildlife Trust has been enormous and now has them backed up against a wall fighting for the survival. Unless a new benefactor or sufficient donations are secured in the next couple of weeks SanWild’s animals risk losing the only safe home they have.
A special crowd funding appeal WILDLIFE UNDER SIEGE has been setup to raise the $500 000 US needed to ensure that the project can continue.
On a global scale the impact of poaching on various species has become one of the most contentious issues of the day. The mass slaughter of elephant in Africa have reached epidemic proportions and on the southern tip of Africa rhinos could be facing imminent extinction as the rhino poaching crisis deepens.
With more than 900 animals already butchered since 1 January 2014 South Africa faces an enormous challenge with its war against rhino poaching. The mass slaughter of elephants have reached epidemic proportions, but it is just not rhinos and elephants that face a bleak future. The poaching of most wildlife species is spreading across the African continent like a wildfire and wild animals are facing a total onslaught that could see many driven to the brink of extinction.
Protected natural habitat sanctuaries and private reserves will ultimately be the only way to secure sufficient genetic material to restock conservation areas with wild animal species that face a very real threat of extinction should the poaching crisis goes unchallenged.
Contact details: Louise Joubert, SanWild Wildlife Trust +27 (0) 15-3839959 or +27 (0) 83 310 3882, email email@example.com Website: www.sanwild.org Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SanWild-Wildlife-Sanctuary/163363760361196?ref=hl
Although the title may seem contradictory and look like a way to attract attention to this article (and if you’re reading this, it worked!), there’s more to it. Please allow me to explain.
First of all, the correct terminology in the forensic field is footwear outsole impressions. Recovery and examination of footwear impression evidence is an important tool in the forensic investigators’ toolbox and can provide essential evidence in a crime scene investigation. The clearer and more defined an impression is, the higher the chance that specific identifiers, like unique wear patterns, cuts and defects, can be recovered and a specific impression can be tied to a specific boot. A series of impressions can help reconstruct a sequence of events, as well as give an indication of the actions and movement patterns of an individual. Additionally, individual gait specifics may be identified and tied to an individual.
But what if your crime scene is on a substrate that is not conducive to crisp and clear impressions? What if your crime scene is, say, in the middle of a mixed deciduous and coniferous forest?
Mixed forest floors consist of multiple layers of pine needles, leaves, detritus, humus and other debris in several stages of decay. This makes for a very soft, almost cushion-like flooring that absorbs the pressure of contact with a human body part. Also, it will leave no clear impression that will show footwear class information, let alone any specific identifiers. How can we find a usable impression?
If you’re looking for usable outsole impressions, you will have a hard time. This has to do with perception and expectation. If you expect to see a print or (part of) tread marks, you might miss all those small subtle clues that show you someone set a foot on that forest floor. Trackers look for “sign”, which can be defined as “any change from the natural state, inflicted upon the environment by the passage of man, animal or machinery”. There are several characteristics to sign, but the most prominent in this example are what in tracking is called flattening, colour change and disturbance.
Although it probably has been an important part of man’s survival since humans started hunting 2 million years ago and has been an integral part of early religion, tracking and searching for sign is above anything about visual perception and object and pattern recognition. Imagine your brain having file folders with images how objects and shapes and people around you look, a process of constant registration, storing, and learning. In order to create order in the seemingly chaotic world around you, your brain will compare what your eyes see with what is stored in your file folders. When a match is found, you will recognise what you see. “Look, it’s my uncle Bob!”
Understanding this principle helps to understand tracking and how to learn how to see sign in different substrates. By exposing a student tracker to as much sign in different substrates, environmental conditions and age of sign and effectively filling his/her file folders, he/she will be able to learn to see sign in seemingly very difficult terrain.
Back to the pine forest. After being exposed to tracker-based training the forensic investigator may be able to identify the subtle flattening, colour change and general disturbance associated with human impressions. Two kneeling positions identified under and partially on the victim link these specific impressions to the victim. From these sign patterns the investigator is able to identify the entry and exit route of this specific subject. Linking the subtle marks on the ground together into an uninterrupted chain of evidence the investigator is able to retrace the steps of the subject. Stride length, straddle, pressure, dwell time and pitch angle all serve as indicators of the suspects’ actions. Until the investigator hits a “track trap”.
In tracking a track trap is defined as an area conducive to good sign. In this case the subject stepped on an old molehill. The soft, relatively moist sand leaves a very clear impression. As an isolated print this impression would be of limited value, but the investigators’ ability to link the incident to this track through an uninterrupted chain of subtle clues increases the value of this piece of impression evidence, effectively enabling him to link this print to the incident.
If you’re only looking for clear recoverable prints you may miss a potentially large amount of clues and evidence, which may help you reconstruct scenarios, effectively steering your investigation. In some instances these “breadcrumbs” will lead you to a good impression, a secondary crime scene, discarded evidence in an area where the suspect felt safe and dropped his/her “forensic guard”, or maybe even the suspect.
(No humans were hurt during the writing of this article. All pictures were taken during a training scenario.)
Tom Tugendhat writes an excellent article raising the question, why have our serving Scottish Forces personnel been denied the right to vote for or against an independent Scotland? At a time when the resulting outcome may well alter the size and shape of the UK Armed Forces unlike any other time in our nations “recent” history why are these personnel being denied this basic of democratic right?
The loss of the Scottish contingent from HM Armed Forces will incur a change unlike any Armed Forces Select Committee has ever managed to achieve. The recent stringent Defence Reviews that created the enormous cuts and job losses in our armed forces have already shaped the UK governments Strategic Policy. Tom quite rightly, highlights the audacity of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, tearing like a rampant bear through the fields and streets of eastern Ukraine. Is it any wonder that the likes of the Islamic State, currently murdering their way across a Middle East engulfed by flame recognises an opportunity, just like Putin, to advanced their aims while a weakened and war weary West diminish there nation’s readiness for any future “internal” as well as external conflict!
Change is inevitable and good can come from it, however our nations troops deserve a better opportunity to have a say in their own nations government. If politicians are willing to sign a declaration that sends the young men and women of this country to war then, the very least that those same politicians can do, is allow them the right to vote on an issue that will affect the future of this nations defence and quite probably, it’s overall position on the world stage.
We are just back from delivering another training package in East Africa and while deployed, in what can only be described as some pretty austere and out of the way locations, we are reliant on handheld Motorola style radios for day to day communications. Motorola handheld radios have proved to be “Hoofing” bits of kit however, range can be greatly effected by both terrain and climatic conditions, this along with battery life and and the lack of any secure comms facility doesn’t create are harmonious relationship while training!
One of our Instructors recently came across goTenna….no its not a feminine hygiene product but a completely new and innovative method of conducting secure text communication through an IOS or Android mobile phone but without the need for any form of central connectivity/network!
goTenna works by way of a Bluetooth antenna system that links with a collapsible and highly portable antenna. It uses Long Range Radio waves to communicate with anyone else on your network who is also using a goTenna.
The guys from goTenna say that the device needs to be anywhere up to a maximum of 20 feet from your phone to achieve Bluetooth connectivity and will even connect and operate when your device is in Airplane Mode…..great way to save battery life and still communicate! You use a free App to text message or share a location and you can even conduct group messages. Messages remain safe and secure as they are encrypted and have a “self destruct” function once received.
Currently goTenna are quoting various ranges dependent on your position (transmitting-height) and the location of the receiving goTenna. As with all communications, terrain (forest, mountains, ocean, desert and urban) and possibly even climatic conditions can have an effect and wil no doubt reduce any speculated range? For the goTenna view on this take a look at the link below and see for yourself the ranges that they are claiming. If they prove true, this product could well be worth its eventual $299.99 USD price tag. goTenna are currently offering an introductory price for pre-orders of $149.99 for two devices!
We have yet to get our hands on a set however, we are waiting to receive our trial pair so that we can really put goTenna through its paces and give you some real and genuine “from the field” feed-back on what looks like an exciting new product.
Please check out the link below: