116 GUANACOS: LIVING AND DYING
Guanacos are very rarely seen by themselves, but may be met with in flocks varying from five hundred down to six. They are easily tamed, but, unlike most other animals, become more ready to defend themselves in their tame than in their wild state. They will even learn to attack man, and to strike out in a peculiar way with both knees from behind.
One strange fact has been discovered about the guanacos which is not as yet known of any other creatures. When, by some curious and unexplained instinct, they feel that they have received their death wound, or been stricken with their last illness, they leave their fellows, and make straight for one of their dying places, perhaps hundreds of miles away. Some of these dying places have been seen by travellers, in South Patagonia, where they are most frequent, usually near rivers, in the midst of low trees, and thick scrub. Why the stricken beast should take the long and often difficult journey, instead of creeping awray like other creatures into the nearest hole or thicket to die, we do not know. It may be an inherited longing for a spot which was originally a place of shelter, or it may be that they are pushed by invisible hands to the grassy refuge that is whitened by their father's bones. What becomes of all the dead animals ? Does anybody know ? Of the sparrows, the monkeys, the hares ? A ' dead donkey' is such a rare sight that it has turned into a proverb. But what about the rest ?