Desert Pronghorn

Bringing Back the Pronghorn

Two species of pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) thrived in Southern California until the 1940s when both were extirpated in the area due to hunting and habitat loss. Pronghorn are the second fastest land animal on the planet, able to maintain speeds of 40mph for an hour. Sadly, both the peninsular and Sonoran pronghorn have not been a part of our Coachella Valley desert ecosystem for nearly a century. Historically, the Salton Sea separated the two subspecies, with the Sonoran on the east side and the peninsular on the west side.


The Living Desert is working with a coalition of partners led by the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Program in Mexico to help in the breeding of this subspecies so that some may be brought to eastern San Diego County to establish a population there. Additionally, The Living Desert has been the lead facilitator and editor for the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Plan that was accepted and approved by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Sonoran pronghorn, aptly nicknamed the ‘desert ghost’ because of its elusive nature, were once an important part of the California desert ecosystem. Luckily, some populations survived in northern Mexico and Arizona. With international collaboration, three stable populations currently exist, two in Arizona and one in Mexico. In partnership with many Federal, State, and NGO partners, Sonoran pronghorn from stable populations in Arizona will be relocated to repopulate the California desert. However, before pronghorn are brought to California, the landscape where these animals will live must be assessed. The Living Desert is one of the leaders of this recovery effort by setting the stage for their return, working at the Chuckwalla Bench — a spectacular landscape and biodiversity hotspot located in the Colorado Desert — to survey existing water sources, identify potential dangers, and map where the best habitat exists. Gathering this assessment data will help to secure a future for this unique species in California.

Your support is crucial in the ambitious journey to reintroduce the pronghorn to Southern California, a project that promises to restore a vital part of our desert ecosystem’s heritage. Donate now to make a difference.

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