The Desert Is Calling

Photographer: Luca Galuzzi
Location: Upper Antelope Canyon, Navajo Land, Arizona.
Antelope Canyon, the crown jewel of the Arizona Desert, a corner of earth where water is scarce but its signature on the land is omnipresent. Here, 190 million years of geological processes have created the Navajo Sandstone, that luminous sandstone that weaves, bends and breaks the desert floor; where the epic forces of flash floods have etched a path of least resistance. The Navajo named this canyon Tsé bighánílíní, which means "the place where water runs through rocks." Over time, those that followed the moccasin trails to this hallowed ground named it Antelope Canyon, after the herds of pronghorn antelope that roamed freely in the canyon and the surrounding lands. Pronghorn are also relicts of a time past, moulded by evolutionary process that fine-tuned their ecology to fit seamlessly with the demands of life in the vast Arizona desert. Though not a true antelope, the ancient pronghorn is more closely related to a giraffe than the antelope of the Serengeti. The pronghorn, first described by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, live up to 10 years, can reach speeds of 60mph, and migrate further than any overland animal in North America except the caribou. Sadly, pronghorns in Arizona are declining precipitously, largely in part due to the ever-growing border fences with Mexico, simply because pronghorns can’t jump over barbed wire fences, or any fences for that matter; their evolutionary history, tuned precisely to live on the vast deserts and plains of North America, selected for speed not jumping ability, making the border fence and the miles and miles of barbed wire fences crisscrossing North America impenetrable boundaries for pronghorn. Thankfully, ranchers and researchers have found that by removing the bottom string of barbed wire from a fence, pronghorn can crawl underneath and continue on their way. This discovery alone has proven to be pivotal in the ongoing efforts to preserve pronghorn and ensure that they remain a timeless symbol of wilderness here in North America.
By Charles Post