Javelinas (pronounced hav-uh-LEE-nuh) are indigenous to and found only in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona of the United States. Weighing in at 40 to 60 pounds, they are always black in coloring, covered with bristly hairs (which contributes a grayish color cast) and typically travel in roving bands numbering from 10 to 25.
“But they’re just pigs,” you say. “So what?”
Au contraire, mon ami! According to Park literature javelinas may well physically resemble swine but for millions of years have been genetically distinct from table bacon. Also according to Park literature, javelians aren’t usually aggressive but can exhibit a fierce posture when food is involved.
During my first visit to Big Bend—while en route through the park—I photographed a single javelina running along roadside. It was the only one I had ever encountered.
During this 2010 visit, I was outside Park headquarters when a band of javelinas came sauntering along. I couldn’t believe my luck! I rushed to my car, got the camera, adjusted the settings and then... Well, then a Park employee came driving along and hit his horn to scatter the little beasts off the road. He apologized as he drove by, but nonetheless, I was now, “javelinaless.”
That’s when I decided to photograph the nearby hill-sized, Lone Mountain. That task, and a particularly red cactus (both shown on the previous pages of this gallery), delayed my departure until a single javelina happened along.
I started tracking it for a photograph. Now, javelinas have a terrific sense of smell but very poor vision. So, by staying downwind I was able to follow it through a few hundred yards of underbrush. Whenever I managed to get fairly close but made too much noise, the javelina would freeze and/or then bolt for a short distance. One such pause is pictured above. It froze and everything but my finger on the camera button followed suit.
I finally lost him (or her) when it took off at a dead run. Javelina will travel (as oppose to Have Gun Will Travel—sorry, I just couldn’t resist).
The original image is a Tagged Image Format File (TIFF) with a file data size of 35.1 megabytes (MB).
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Unless otherwise noted the image was corrected to offset color shift and balance. This restores black (shadows), white (highlights) and neutral gray (neutral mid-tones).
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