The Florida panther is losing its habitat
Why I love nature
I am a “nature” person and I was blessed to spend my childhood in a very beautiful area in Holland. There were lovely big forests in the area where my parents and I would go mushroom hunting all the while observing all the exciting things you can discover in nature.
My Father constructed a super tree house for me and I wondered at all I saw. I would often go on an expedition with our cat and dog in the garden. These were lovely times. Especially because my Father was interested in everything related to nature as well. My Mother preferred museums and churches so the holidays would always be a combination of the hobbies both of my parents had and I would love it.
I have always loved animals but my biggest love has been for cats. All of the cat family, from the smallest to big. They have fascinated me with their grace, beauty, elegance, and sometimes their funny antics. Since 1981 I live on my old organic farm and have the space to give cats a happy home.
My concern about the environment
I am also concerned about what is happening in our world and when I come across something which catches my attention, I will probably write a post about it. Having 2 websites since January of 2017, my world view has changed considerably. I have become aware that we, humans, do not take good care of our environment. That we, with our actions (or inaction), have destroyed many species of fauna and flora.
They are forever lost and we cannot undo what has been done. That means that future generations will only know these examples of nature from books, films, and the internet. It could very well be that they will accuse us of having been careless, cruel and destructive of something all humans have a right to enjoy.
My sources of information
I subscribe to quite a few newsletters be it from many doctors, spiritual related organizations and protective organizations that send me news on environmental issues. I am happy to receive them as it inspires me to write a post. One of these newsletters came my way recently and caught my attention. Sierra Club is warning that the Florida panther is in danger. Definitely, something to write about and I hope it will catch your attention. I live in the south of Spain but you, my reader might live in the U.S.
The beautiful panther and its history
When I think of the panther, I envision the beautiful black panther. Most black panthers are either a black leopard or a black jaguar but the term panther includes other species besides the leopard or jaguar. The Florida panther is the only exception and it is actually a subspecies of Cougar. All these beautiful creatures belong to the Big Cat family. You will find them in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
It seems that the word panther has not being used much by the scientific community since the 1960s. Most of the big cats are listed under the genus as panthers and there are 12 living species of panthers as of 2015. Cougars have different names like Puma and Mountain Lion and are not listed as panthers. This makes it all a bit confusing.
You probably remember the lovely story written by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book. Bagheera, the black panther plays an important part in this story.
The Florida panther is in danger
There are only 120 Florida panthers living in the U.S. It is one of the most endangered animals in the United States. Why is the panther in danger? There are plans for a 45.000-acre mega housing development which threatens to take their habitat away. It is always us, the human race, wanting to expand and, without any respect or concern for other species, grabbing their habitat.
I also read that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would soon allow for the destruction of 20.000 acres of the Panther’s homeland. When you think this is the only place worldwide where this panther can breed and have its babies, one wonders why, again men, have to destroy instead of protect. Scientists are warning that if this mega building plan is approved it would mean the extinction of Florida’s official state animal. Do you want that to happen?
In Spain, we have the Iberian Lynx which is also on the endangered species list. These past years it has been made possible to increase the number in special breeding programs and when old enough the animals were set free with a GPS collar.
You might argue that this same type of program is used to save the Florida panther. It only will be effective if we can maintain its habitat and even increase it. But this will not happen until we all make the commitment to protect their home and hunting grounds.
Cars are panthers worse enemy
If the large housing development goes forward, it will mean a huge increase in traffic. From the estimated 174.000 new residents one can add some 180.000 more vehicles on the road. Currently, car collisions are the number one reason for panther deaths and you can imagine, with such a growth in traffic, Florida panther deaths will only increase. There are associations like the Florida Panther Protection Program who try to protect this beautiful animal from extinction. The question is which side will win?
This beautiful big cat
Let us have a closer look at this magnificent animal. It is a gorgeous big cat which can weigh up to 160 lbs (73 kg), which is what I weigh (that means I have to lose a couple of kgs). The Florida panther lives mainly in the south in pine-lands, the hardwood hammocks, and swamp forests. In the 1970s there were only an estimated 20 animals left but luckily its numbers rose to approx. 230 by 2017. In 1983 it was chosen as Florida’s state animal.
When the cubs are born, they are spotted but growing up, these spots will fade away. These animals cannot roar but have the ability to make multiple sounds like whistles, chirps, growls, hisses, and purrs. Just like my little black panther, Jasmin, who sits on the windowsill of my workroom. After waiting to be let in for breakfast, she tells me long stories about her hunting spree during the night.
No more legal hunting
This panther has been protected from legal hunting since 1958 and in 1967 it was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1973 the panther was put on the state’s endangered species list. Now, someone wants to take its habitat away. These animals are large carnivores and they have a varied diet.
Hares, mice, and waterfowl are on the menu. They might also eat storks, some white-tailed deer, and even American alligators. That surprised me a lot, what a brave cat. What will happen when you take away their hunting grounds? I found out it also has some naughty hunting habits as it can present a danger to cattle, horses, and even dogs and cats.
Dogs and cats? oh no, that is awful you might say. Let’s face it, if we steal its habitat and leave too little hunting grounds then, of course, it will find different food sources which might include our dear dog or cat. It is our fault so we should not blame the panther, who only hunts to be able to survive and feed its offspring.
When we interfere with nature it has unforeseen consequences. A good example is Yellowstone Park. When the wolf was banned it caused a complete imbalance in ecology of the region, affecting the whole ecosystem. Luckily, in this case, the wolf has been introduced again and balance was restored.
I sincerely hope that this mega building project will not happen. If you are concerned about the disappearance of the Florida panther, please speak up, go and protest to the local authorities.
We do not have a right to destroy all fauna and flora. We have an obligation to take care of our environment. Future generations also want to enjoy living on this beautiful planet. Please help so this will be possible.
Source: Wikipedia and Sierra Club.org
Photo Source: Pixabay
The human race is guilty of the extinction of many more species. It is very sad but actually a must to be informed about what is happening in our world. You might care to read the following post.