Good ideas take on a life of their own, soon spawning a host of others. That's what happened to South African Louis Liebenberg's CyberTracker – a remarkable combination of 21st century technology and hunter-gatherer bushcraft. An anthropologist, Liebenberg spent years roaming the harsh Kalahari Desert with San Bushman hunter gatherers, learning to track wildlife, and became friends with the Xö community from Lone Tree. Chatting round the campfire one night, some of the older hunters said they were worried about the younger generation. They could no longer survive by hunting and gathering and needed jobs. But they had no marketable skills. The only thing they could do – and do really well – was tracking. But they were totally illiterate, so they had no way of selling that skill.
So Liebenberg teamed up with Justin Steventon, an IT student at the University of Cape Town. Together they developed an icon-based, hand-held electronic device that enabled trackers to accurately record the nature and position of their findings. The original CyberTracker was based on the Apple Newton, grafted onto a GPS so that observations could be recorded while the exact location and time was automatically attached to each piece of data. The data, once downloaded onto a desktop, could be analysed in a number of ways.