Carlton Ward Jr. Survivor.
The Florida panther is the last population of pumas surviving in the eastern United States. Nearly extinct, with fewer that 20 remaining in recent decades, the species has rebounded to nearly 200 today. Largely isolated to the southern tip of Florida, continued recovery will require conservation of the Florida Wildlife Corridor to serve as a lifeline for reclaiming historic territory further north in Florida, and beyond.
Vehicle strikes are the leading cause of death, claiming nearly 30 panthers each year. In 2014, a young Florida panther was found hiding in a bougainvillea bush beside a tennis court in Naples. Her mother had been hit by a car nearby, sustaining only minor injuries, and was seen walking away from the area with her other kittens. After multiple attempts to reunite the lone kitten with her family, biologists rescued her, too young to survive in the wild on her own. In 2015, she was given a home at Zoo Miami, where she is an ambassador for her family in the wild and the habitat they need to survive.
Carlton Ward Jr is a conservation photographer and National Geographic Explorer whose passion for nature was born from the Florida landscape. His mission is to inspire appreciation and protection of Florida’s original nature and culture – the endangered wildness that is often hidden in plain sight but very much needs our attention to be saved.
Follow Carlton on instagram @carltonward,