Our next stop on our North American Road Trip was for wildlife watching in Custer State Park, South Dakota. We took the 18 mile Wildlife Loop Road that winds it way through the prairie hills hoping to see an abundance of wildlife.
There is a herd of 1300 bison in this park, and funnily enough we didn’t even see one of these monstrous animals! In general we didn’t see as much wildlife as we had hoped, but we were happy with our second chance to photograph pronghorn (Previously seen in Yellowstone National Park).
Pronghorn (antelope) are considered the fastest land animals after the cheetah, their speed is difficult to measure but it has been said that they can reach speeds of up to 100km/h! We can definitely contest to them being fast; if they don’t want to be photographed then they will be gone before you can even press the shutter button once. Following our poor luck photographing the pronghorn Renee took a new approach and attempted to video rather than photograph, consequently we have many videos of the ones that got away. We also came across a few pronghorn who weren’t so camera shy, and one that even decided to casually cross the road in front of us. This was the first time we had seen their amazing prong-horns close up and you can definitely see where they get their name from. The pronghorn that crossed the road in front of us was a male – you can tell by the black patch of hair where their jaw meets their neck. This pronghorn appeared to be part of a family group, with the mum and baby pronghorn nearby. The juvenile pronghorns are cute with a bushy orange mane of hair on the back of their neck; giving them a ginger foal sort of look. We were thankful that these ones were so relaxed around humans and continued on our drive feeling satisfied with our pronghorn encounter.
Begging Burros (Donkeys)
The donkeys are named “begging burros” (Burro is the Spanish word for donkey) because they approach cars taking the scenic drive and beg for food. We saw them getting a good meal of carrots and lettuce and wished we’d brought something for them too. These begging burros are wild but deceptively tame – eating out of your hand and so forth; they’re descended from donkeys that were first released into the park in the 1930s.
I particularly enjoyed photographing the burros and the wild flowers in the park; unfortunately I accidentally deleted all my photos so all media on this post was taken by Renee.
While watching the begging burros we also enjoyed the antics of the prairie dogs in the meadows. They’ve got to be one of the most watchful and timid creatures around. In the video you can see the prairie dogs bobbing up and down and scampering between holes as the relaxed begging burros wander across the meadows.
Pronghorn, burros & prairie dogs video
Have you been to Custer State Park? Did you know burro was Spanish for donkey? I didn’t.