Send us footprints!

Photographing left hing footprint

Photographing left hind footprint

If you see footprints on a hike, or regularly as part of your work, we want to hear from you!

We want to use footprints to map endangered species around the world, and learn how to protect them better.

If you have a smartphone you can collect images using the Epicollect app

Epicollect is available for MacOSX or Android phones.

If you don’t want to use Epicollect or don’t have a smartphone you can use a camera, pen and pencil to collect images.

First, you need to know how to find and set up the image for photography.

How to take an image of a footprint

First, please take care not to disturb animals in their natural habitat and, if possible, take an experienced local tracker with you. They will help you find the best footprints.


Digital image of footprint


  1. If you can, find a trail of several footprints, and choose clear prints where you can see the outlines of the toes and heel.  If you only see one, that’s OK too
  2. Align your lens directly overhead of the footprint and fill the camera frame.  Try to take images early morning and late afternoon when the light contrast is good. Avoid casting shadow on the footprint.
  3.  Place a metric ruler as the scale on bottom and left-hand axis, in relation to direction of travel. Leave about 2cm between the ruler and the print on each side.
  4. If you’re not using Epicollect, please include a photo ID slip in the image. This is described below.


Option 1: Using a camera/phone and pen/pencil

First download our footprint protocol slips for free-ranging animals or for zoo animals (algorithm development) to complete and put one next to your footprints with the scale, as shown above.

Record the date, name of photographer and any information about the animal ID, if known, on a photo ID slip just below the footprint. Include the GPS if your phone doesn’t already capture that. ‘Footprint number’ refers to the number allocated to the footprint for that day’s work. Call the first LH print in the trail 1a, the second 1b, the third 1c etc.  Footprints from a second trail a bit further on will be 2a, 2b etc. If only occasional individual footprints are seen, give each a different number. Indicate which foot, if known, under ‘Foot ID’.

When you have collected your footprints, please contact us for details of how to upload them.

Option 2: Using Epicollect

First download the Epicollect5 app and register. Log in.

If you’re collecting footprints from free-ranging animals then search for the WildTrack Footprint Project.

If you’re collecting footprints from captive animals (zoo, sanctuary etc) search for the WildTrack Captive Footprint Project.

Simply read the instructions in the app and follow the step-by-step process.

We’d like footprints that are part of a trail of many prints, if possible. For each trail, you’ll only need to enter the basic data (name, date etc) once, take the first footprint in the trail, and then add each additional image as a ‘branch’.  If you’re not sure whether two trails are connected (ie the same animal) always assume they are two different trails and label the second trail #2a, b, c etc.

For each trail, you will enter a fresh set of basic data into the app.  At the end of each trail (or when you get back to a place where there is a cell signal or wifi) you can upload the data and images to the cloud, held at Oxford University in the UK. You can view the locations of the data you have collected within Epicollect, either in the app or on the desktop


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