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      The Nature Report: Drought Survival

      The South Texas ranch country is suffering from an exceptional drought.

      Ranch ponds continue to recede making it more and more difficult for cattle and wildlife to survive. A pair of does lap up the trickle of fresh water flowing from a windmill pipe, and after slacking their thirst they move off.

      One of the gaunt deer attempts to pull up a little something green from the parched earth, but her protruding ribs evidence the struggle she faces. As she slowly moves off into the shade of nearby mesquites, the bleached bones of less fortunate animals gleam in the foreground. A year ago, deep South Texas was still saturated from Hurricane Doll.

      But since then, rainfall has been well below average and many ranch country ponds have disappeared. Sooner or later, all the creatures of the chaparral must come to water, from thirsty raccoons to wary coyotes.

      But as each vital oasis vanishes life becomes more difficult, animals are forced to travel farther seeking water and become stressed. So long as ranch windmills continue to spin, they will extract the precious liquid that makes life possible in the arid brush country.

      But as soon as water surfaces relentless sun and desiccating winds evaporate more than appears. A slender doe and her lone fawn emerge form the brush in late afternoon.

      Despite the exceptional drought, wildlife remains resilient, patiently waiting for rainfall that will come eventually. Meanwhile, the windmills turn in a race against time, trying to keep pace with each shrinking oasis they supply.