“Connecting with the wilderness allows us to live in the flow of a meaningful, joyful life. Embracing this state of connectedness or oneness with other living beings including animals, as opposed to feeling an “otherness” or “separateness” brings a sense of harmony and enables us to be at peace with oneself and the world.” ~ Sylvia Dolson, Joy of Bears
By Shane Reynolds
One of the great things about being at Cordillera Ranch on a daily basis is the diversity in wildlife that we are able to experience. My best memories as both a child and adult are spent observing wildlife, and I am fortunate to be pursuing a career that keeps me outside much of the time. Some of my greatest joys in recent years are seeing my children with keen eyes point out a bird they see or witness their excitement when they observe something as small as a caterpillar hanging from a tree. Observing wildlife brings a great sense of calm to our daily lives, and I encourage you to slow down, sit by a tree in the woods and simply watch and listen to the wild world around you.
Texas is an extremely diverse state with 10 distinct eco-regions ranging from desert in the western portion of the state to the dense forests of the east. It is second only to California in terms of its biodiversity, with the highest number of birds and reptiles and the second highest number of plants and mammals in the United States. Texas is bursting with wildlife of every conceivable shape, color, size and disposition. Over 165 species of mammals are native to the state, as well as 213 species of reptiles and amphibians. Texas also hosts the greatest diversity of bird life in the United States — 590 native species in all.
The Texas Hill Country region is an ecologically diverse landscape as well, and is home to both native and non-native species. In the next several issues of Cordillera Ranch Living, we will highlight some of the wildlife found in and around Cordillera Ranch. The rich history of the ranch includes portions that were high fenced for decades upon decades to best manage large game animals and also introduce several exotic species for hunters. Over time, many of the exotics in the area have found their niche in the ecosystem. Land stewardship and thriving populations of wildlife go hand-in-hand and healthy populations of native wildlife demonstrate that land is part of a functioning ecosystem.
I am not a biologist, so I will not attempt to explain the issues of having non-native animals competing alongside native animals. Exotics, or non-native game, certainly can be observed in and around Cordillera Ranch, with discussion of some of these species in the magazine issues to come. Exotics started showing up on Texas ranches in the 1950’s as ranchers quickly discovered alternative sources of revenue from a large market of hunters who desired to hunt these animals in Texas. Today there are 51 species of exotics in the state — the most common being axis, sika and fallow deer, blackbuck antelope, aoudad, wild Corsican and mouflon sheep. I have seen most of these exotics in Cordillera Ranch.
I am always looking for great photos of both native and non-native animals. If any of our readers have hi-resolution photos of wildlife in Cordillera Ranch, please email them to me for publication in Cordillera Ranch Living and on our website, and we will kindly give you credit.
Shane Reynolds is the Recreation Director & Outfitter at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.