Signs of elusive animals

When working with elusive animals like tapirs or bears, I was frequently asked about how many tapirs or bears I had seen in the field. My answer was “I had never seen them, I just work with their signs”. So people maybe thought it wasn’t a serious work. “How can he study those animals if he never sees them?” In reality a collection of signs (tracks, feeding sins, droppings, hairs, etc.) when well analyzed give us more information than simple direct sightings. At the end a sighting become just an anecdotic event, something to tell to your friends when drinking a few beers. But, well, sightings can be really important if you want to get support for your project; people want to invest in tangible things, isn’t it?

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