Florida Wild: Path of the Panther
Carlton Ward Jr. is a National Geographic Explorer and the recipient of the 2015 Conservation Leadership Award from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
He is currently focused on the story of the Florida panther and habitat conservation required to revive the species. The spread of suburban development and high-speed roads consumes approximately 20 acres of wild Florida every hour and has isolated the breeding population of panthers to the southern tip of the state. Only about 200 adult panthers survive, and without increased access to territory they may never reach sustainable numbers.
Protecting the Florida Wildlife Corridor—a statewide network of public and private conservation lands—gives the Florida panther a chance to recover. It also helps maintain farms and ranches, restore the Everglades and support dozens of other wildlife species.
Carlton is working closely with scientists and landowners to highlight opportunities to benefit panthers and people. As an eighth-generation Floridian with a family cattle ranch, Carlton recognizes the importance of working lands for protecting wildlife and cultural heritage. By connecting the public to panthers using photos and outreach, he seeks to encourage the habitat protection needed to expand the panther population and keep Florida wild.
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