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Pronghorn Obstacle Course

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Photograph by Joe Riis – See More Pronghorn Migration Photos

It’s almost autumn, and if you’re a pronghorn snacking on the grasslands of Grand Teton National Park, you’re probably starting to think about heading south for the winter. Soon, you and thousands of your closest brethren will begin the third longest overland mammal migration in the world, traveling a southeasterly route of 150 miles or more to Wyoming’s Red Desert. But before you can settle into a tasty meal of sagebrush at the end of the trail, you’re going to face many obstacles: shimmying under barbed wire fences, dodging heavy truck traffic on Highway 191, and navigating the burgeoning sprawl of houses, ranchettes, and gas mining fields occupying the open valleys in which you feel most at home. And these are just the human-made challenges.

Photojournalist and National Geographic Young Explorer Joe Riis hopes to inspire people to protect the Path of the Pronghorn by documenting their epic migration – from the pronghorn’s perspective. “[I] wanted to view the landscape through the eyes of the pronghorn and see the obstacles that the pronghorn see,” explains Joe. Outfitted with a collection of infrared-triggered camera traps and a life-size cutout of a pronghorn that he uses as a cover, Joe is the first person to take close-up photographs of the pronghorn during migration. Walking alongside the animals on foot, he chronicles the hazards faced on their journey – as well as the spectacular beauty of the Wyoming landscape – in intimate detail.

Joe describes the pronghorn migration in this very special Wild Chronicles episode.

Follow Joe on the Pronghorn Passage by checking out his blog, and looking for his photographs in National Geographic Adventure this winter. Want to learn how you can become a National Geographic Young Explorer like Joe? Make like a pronghorn to National Geographic Headquarters this October to hear how he did it – in person – at the Young Explorer Grants Workshop. Finally, you can learn about how Joe’s work is part of a larger effort to give North American animals the Freedom to Roam.