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Thursday, 19 June 2014

The First Hour


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Pronghorn doe with fawns about 1/2 hour old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas: photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)


Life, such a delicate thing. They will struggle just to stand, nor will things get easier later. Soon enough they will have to be able to run -- for it, for life, for their lives. Still, here they are, now. And they have just noticed us for the first time. But probably not the last.
 
Such a peculiar thing, to each its own, none more nor less important than any other one.
 
Life, such a harsh thing. Yet so companionable, from the first. It wouldn't harm a fly.




Pronghorn doe with fawns about 45 minutes old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas: photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)
 
 
Pronghorn doe with fawns about 1 hour old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas
: photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)



Pronghorn doe with fawns about 1 hour old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas (2): photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)
 

Pronghorn doe with fawns about 1 hour old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas (3): photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)



Pronghorn doe with fawns about 1 hour old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas (4): photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)
 

Pronghorn doe with fawns about 1 hour old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas (5): photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)


Pronghorn doe with fawns about 1 hour old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas (6): photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)



Pronghorn doe with fawns about 1 hour old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas (7): photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)



Pronghorn doe with fawns about 1 hour old at Up & Down Ranch, 10 miles northwest of Ft. Davis, Texas (8): photo by Helmut Karl Buechner, 28 May 1947 (Smithsonian Institution Archives)
 


Hunter with Pronghorn antelope, New Mexico: photographer unknown, 1940s: posted by windryder, 11 August 2012
 

Pronghorn hunt: photo by Matt (mattphillips18), 18 August 2008
 


Pronghorn hunt: photo by Matt (mattphillips18), 19 August 2008
 

Pronghorn hunt: photo by Matt (mattphillips18), 19 August 2008
 

West Texas Pronghorn Hunting: photo by will_mccullough, 1 October 2010

Pronghorn evolved as creatures of vast spaces. Their white rumps, ochre fur and harlequin-striped faces camouflage them in tawny grasslands. They bound across plains at speeds unmatched by any other North American land animal. They can spot a predator four miles away. But these adaptations have not protected them from a mysterious population crash in Trans-Pecos Texas. What’s happening to them here?

Millions of pronghorn once roamed Texas’ western half, but overhunting and habitat loss sent their numbers plummeting in the late 19th century. The Trans-Pecos’ grasslands remained home to most of the state’s pronghorn, with the Marfa area having one of the highest densities in the southwestern United States. Trans-Pecos pronghorn numbers have been falling though since the 1980s, when they peaked at 17,000. Last year, they hit an all-time low of just over 4,700 animals.

-- Megan Wilde: Pronghorn in Decline: Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Fort Davis, Texas (2014)

 
 

Pronghorn, West Texas: photo by Circle Ranch, 3 September 2011



Desert Pronghorn, Sierra Diablo Desert, West Texas. These are pronghorn does in the desert. They have at least one fawn which we observed but could not photograph. The Eagle Mountains are in the background: photo by Circle Ranch, 25 May 2011


Pronghorn,
Sierra Diablo Desert, West Texas: photo by Circle Ranch,
25 May 2011


Pronghorn in Sierra Diablo Desert, Texas, looking south to Eagle Mountains: photo by Circle Ranch, 7 July 2013

4 comments:

TC said...

The man who took the first ten photos here, Helmut Karl Buechner (1919-1975), was a groundbreaking field researcher on the ecology of free-roaming terrestrial vertebrates. His research on the range ecology of the pronghorn antelope in the Trans-Pecos region in southwest Texas, resulting in a famous study, Life History, Ecology, and Range Use of the Pronghorn in Trans-Pecos Texas (1950), received the George Mercer award of the Ecological Society of America. He would later also study the territorial behavior of elk and deer of the Blue Mountains region of Washington; bighorn sheep (his The Bighorn Sheep in the United States, Its Past, Present, and Future, 1959, would become a standard work); African elephants; and the Ugandan kob (first observed by his wife Jimmie H. Buechner). Helmut Karl Buechner's study of Indian rhinoceros mating behavior at the National Zoological Park in 1972 led to the first successful live birth of this species in the Western Hemisphere in 1974.

Nin Andrews said...

Looking at these beautiful photos, I was expecting the hunter . . . Always a part of the scene.
Here, we have an overpopulation of deer. They are in my backyard as I write this. Across the road there's a man who feeds them and then shoots a few in the fall. I guess it's the thrill of the hunt . . .

Wooden Boy said...

The hunters seem to lift the heads up as if it were some half hearted attempt to give the illusion of life.

TC said...

This is what's called trophy hunting. An endemic Texas pastime. There are game parks where one may reduce the numbers of all sorts of exotic species, to save on the trouble and expense of the full safari.

The illusion of life is key to the trophy-hunt photo.

It's essential to demonstrate one's dwarf triumph over the victim by forcing its carcass into these unnatural poses that indicate ultimate submission without showing any of the inconvenient suffering.

Inconvenient for the prey, that is.