This beautiful Florida Panther, Puma concolor coryi, Colin, appears to be docile as he rests in his small cave after a rain storm. The Florida Panther is critically endangered with only 30 – 50 left in the wild. It is also known as the cougar, mountain lion, puma, and catamount. Inspired by the critical loss of these beautiful creatures and their habitat.
Recovery efforts are currently underway in Florida to conserve the state’s remaining population of native panthers. This is a difficult task, as the panther requires large contiguous areas of habitat — each breeding unit, consisting of one male and two to five females, requires about 200 square miles (500 km2) of habitat. A population of 240 panthers would require 8,000 to 12,000 square miles (31,000 km2) of habitat and sufficient genetic diversity in order to avoid inbreeding as a result of small population size. The introduction of eight female cougars from a closely related Texas population has apparently been successful in mitigating inbreeding problems.
Southern Florida is a fast-developing area, and declining habitat threatens this species. The two highest causes of mortality for the Florida panthers are automobile injuries and aggression between panthers for territory. The primary threats to the population as a whole include habitat loss, habitat degradation, and habitat fragmentation. The development at Ave Maria near Naples, is controversial for its location in prime panther habitat.
The Florida panther has been at the center of a controversy over the science used to manage the species. There has been very strong disagreement between scientists about the location and nature of critical habitat. This in turn is linked to a dispute over management which involves property developers and environmental organizations.
Dreher Park Zoo, Palm Beach, FL
Proceeds from the sale of this image will be donated to the Florida Panther Recovery Plan through the US Fish & Wildlife Service to help with their conservation efforts.
70-300mm @ 300mm
8/24/09 – 594/323