Exotic animals, big game from other countries, are common in Texas and exist mostly on private land where they live in large enclosed areas. Although this seems like a relatively new phenomenon, the King Ranch first brought in Nilgai antelope from India in 1930. Today it is estimated that well over 200,000 exotics roam freely on private land.
As an experiment way back in 1856, the army brought 33 camels to Camp Verde to use as pack animals to carry supplies to forts. The building of railroads eliminated the need for them.
During the severe drought of the 1950’s, more exotics were brought in to supplement the population of hunting animals. About half of the 254 counties have exotics, but most are concentrated in certain areas where hunting is popular. But there are also several places where they exist for breeding and to preserve the species.
The dates on the pictures are from different years because I’ve taken pictures over the years but haven’t used them on this blog.
When we bought our property in 2001, there was a small group of Blackbuck Antelope on the property.
The most popular exotics include different species of deer, antelope, and sheep. But the largest group of introduced animals is the European wild swine. No wonder we have a huge wild hog problem in many parts of Texas. They are massive, aggressive, and reproduce at an alarming rate.
Today the numbers of certain species are larger in Texas than in their native lands, where they are endangered. The climate here is similar to Africa and other locales where exotics come from.
A few female blackbuck are gathered at the fence behind our backyard. A buried pipe from our water softening system drains salt to this area. It’s a favorite lick spot for native deer, cattle, and blackbuck.
The purple flowers are Tormpillo or Silverleaf Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), which is a common weed in western North America. It also grows in South America, the Middle East, and South America. A reader recently commented that it is used in some Mexican cheeses.
Blackbuck get their name from the fact that the males get darker as they age. The top of the back of a really old male is black.
Sadly, we do not get to enjoy these beautiful creatures with their bouncing straight up as they run anymore. They have become prey to a native animal – the coyote. And those are not cute, humorous Wiley B. Coyote like in the cartoon. Coyotes decimate cattle and other preferred animals.
Another popular group of exotics are Llamas from South America. This one was given to us by the man who leases our pasture land. Leah was to replace the mate of the widowed white male seen in the background.
The tiny purple flowers in the pasture are native Prairie Verbena.
Leah was pretty old before she died last year.
I always felt sorry for her in the heat of the summer.
A more unusual exotic is the Bongo. These are on a ranch that we pass by on the county road whenever we leave the ranch. The man who owns these is involved in preserving species of animals that are becoming endangered.
Both the western lowland and eastern mountain bongos are native to Kenya and are endangered.
This group is thriving and adding young each year.
We enjoy the animals that enhance the beauty of the land.
“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner.” Max Lucado