Here is a beautiful rhinoceros track. The front of the track is pointing towards the top of the image. This is as good as the tracks get in the nice sand. You can even look real close for specific identifying patters within the lines of the pads of the feet. That way when you find another good track- if you ever do- you can identify it as your animal.
Believe it or not rhinoceros are very gentle on their feet and do not leave a lot of disturbance once they get into the dry grass and harder ground. Especially if they are feeding they have a tendency to move sideways and leave very little sign. If they are walking straight away your best bet is to look for the big curve of their front toe nail in the sand or dirt.
The rhinos could be very hard to trail especially if they were feeding.
We did trail and find rhinos. One day on the trail for 6 hours before we came upon three of them under the shade of a tree. With a good wind at our face and within 40 yards we watched them silently for a while, not even risking the shutter sound of a camera to allow them to become aware of our presence. We had only small shrubs between us and 2 tons of power.
I can't tell you how many times Adriaan and Doc told us this during the trailing sessions. And indeed, there are many reasons to keep your head up while you follow an animal. One reason is staring at you in the picture on the left. If your eyes are buried in the tracks at your feet you might just walk up to a rhino or lion or cape buffalo, etc. If you walk around with your face glued to the ground in Africa, you will get yourself in a dangerous situation.
In any case, you can actually see more with your head up. Look for track out ahead and you can also observe the natural travel routes, obstructions, bottlenecks and avenues that your animal faces. And believe it or not once you get used to scanning 10 or more yards ahead of you, you actually start to see more tracks and get a momentum going in your tracking rather than the stop/start/ stop routine you get into when you have to find every track.
As Adriaan said, "It's not about following footprints, it's about trailing. The footprints just confirm that we're on the trail."
This is the track of a lioness that we called the old lady or split toe. At some point in her life she suffered an injury to her right rear foot leaving her two middle toes with a big gap between them. This came in handy over the 10 days as we followed the lions around. We always knew we were on her pride when we saw this track.
The individuality of this track is very obvious. Of course you will not see this so clearly on every animal but if you look real closely you might be able to find something unique about an individuals track. A cracked hoof, a misshapen toe pad, a unique cracking pattern in the sole or foot pads of the animal. Size and uniqueness of a gait might also give clues. It is very helpful to identify your animal, especially when you are only seeing a good track once in a while. You want to be sure you are tracking the right animal.
I'll leave you with this shot of a piece of elephant dung on a stick. They were everywhere and if they had been dried by the sun -elephant dung initially contains copious amounts of water (which you can squeeze and drink by the way)- you could kick them like a soccer ball or jab a stick in them and toss them at your tracking partners.