Walking as quietly as I can, I scan a mixture of saw palmettos, oak trees with spanish moss cascading down them, and sandpine trees. I try my best to try to catch a glimpse of some form of wildlife here in this land that is specifically preserved for panthers. It’s about 95 degrees out, it’s dry and it’s humid, so most wildlife are probably in a shady spot napping because they most do their hunting at night. In fact, the only wildlife I saw were a couple eagles soaring high above the trees and multiple song birds.
While scanning my brain trying to figure out what to write this week, there is one subject that keeps pulling me back in. It’s about one creature that is one of the most endangered species on this planet, the Florida Panther. According to an article from the Defenders of Wildlife,“there is only an estimated 100-180 adults and subadults in south Florida.” Panthers used to roam all across the southeastern United States in states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida,Tennessee and South Carolina. Now, the breeding population of Florida panthers is found only in the southern tip of Florida.
I am lucky enough to be living in the southern tip of Florida, so maybe one day I will get lucky enough to come across these creatures that are soon to be probably extinct. Just last year, 24 panthers were killed while crossing a road. That is an alarming rate, considering these cats can be up to 7 foot long and 130 pounds for males and up to 75 pounds for females. Panthers fell on the endangered species list in 1967 when there were only about 20 panthers remaining. Slowly but surly, our efforts have paid off bringing their numbers back up. One of the biggest threats to Florida Panthers is destruction of their habitat. Southwest Florida is becoming a booming culture with housing and cities being put up all the time.
I understand the demand for more housing, but how long will this continue? Will we have any open land that is not owned by a county or state park left for the panthers to roam? Will the nature we get to enjoy always be in a park protected, or can we save the natural land trusting it will not be built upon for financial pleasure in someone’s pocket? Luckily, there are people who understand the demand for housing and keeping nature preserved and his name is Syd Kitson. He is the CEO and chairman of Kitson and Partners, a private real estate investment and development company.His vision is HUGE! Just a few short miles from my home he is building an eco-centric new town embedded in nature and powered only by the sun. This new and extraordinary idea to bring nature and humans together is called Babcock Ranch. I encourage you to read more about it here https://www.babcockranchflorida.com/town-makers
In my personal opinion, it seems not to many people have a desire or open heart for caring for our wildlife, especially the Florida Panther. I do not only write about protecting our nature environments because it is my passion, I write because our natural land is in dire need of saving right now.
In fact, according to an article in Earth Times, “A study in Nature indicated that within the next 50 years a quarter of the world’s land animals and plants could become extinct. This is around a million species.”
Read more at http://www.earthtimes.org/encyclopaedia/environmental-issues/habitat-loss-degradation/#C0iH4R0iiPwFU5AS.99
I hope this article has helped you have a better understanding of how endangered our Florida Panther really is and also how important it is to protect our natural environment so all wildlife can thrive. An extinction of an animal is not taken lightly in my heart. It weights heavy and sets a fire in me. We can’t stop man from building in areas that are fit for wildlife only, but we can try our best to protect what we have now and spread the word of how important our ecosystem is to us so one day our children can also explore environments with tall trees and understand the excitment of possibily seeing a panther.