PROTECTOR by Joyce Martin Perz December 1, 2015
Pronghorn stood atop a ridge overlooking the desert floor. His bulging eyes scanned miles of brush and flowering annuals for any sign of an approaching predator. It was spring. New mothers and their twin fawns grazed below him. They needed his protection.
There was a time when herds of Pronghorn’s ancestors (hooved animals with horns, not antlers) roamed the west in numbers greater than even those of the mighty bison. Now only small herds remained.
Pronghorn spied a coyote tacking across the desert, moving with determination toward the does and fawns feeding in the early morning sunshine. The white hairs on Pronghorn’s rump stood on end, signaling danger to the does. They immediately nudged their fawns into the scrub brush and hid.
Pronghorn stood his ground, remaining so still he became one with the landscape. Coyote adjusted his course to the west, a path that would take him behind the sheltering does and fawns.
Instinctively Pronghorn flashed another warning. He wouldn’t allow Coyote to flush out the does and fawns, forcing them into the open where they would become easy prey.
Pronghorn pawed the ground, releasing a cloud of dust. He bolted to the south with Coyote in pursuit. Pronghorn paced himself, keeping just enough space between him and his pursuer that he could not be overtaken. Pronghorn had the speed and endurance to outrun Coyote, but first he wanted to lead him far from the does and fawns.
Pronghorn’s pounding hooves disturbed a small rabbit crouching in the brush. Jackrabbit jumped. Coyote immediately set upon him.
Pronghorn stretched his long legs, effortlessly running and leaping away in a circular path that took him back his ridge.