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Carrizo Plain: Exploring 'the Serengeti of the West'

San Joaquin antelope ground squirrels

Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch

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Endangered critters

Carrizo Plain National Monument is also known for is its concentration of endangered species. Arid ecosystems like the plain are already fragile, and through habitat loss from farming, ranching and development and disruption by human presence, many species are struggling to survive. But this monument provides a protective zone for 13 different species listed as endangered either by the state or federal government. It is the largest concentration of endangered species in California. Species include the endangered San Joaquin antelope ground squirrel (or Nelson's antelope ground squirrel) — and you can see two babies playing here on a log. The monument is also home to the endangered giant kangaroo rat and the endangered blunt-nose leopard lizard.