A once in a lifetime encounter with the elusive Florida panther

Spread the love

Imagine how it must feel to look directly into the eyes of a large, majestic, gorgeous wild cat.

Well, sometimes an encounter like this requires a lifetime, for the lucky ones! So, for this Florida-based wildlife photographer, when that once in a lifetime encounter occurred it really was a sight to be hold.

Carlton Ward Jr is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist who dedicated his entire career, so far, to protect the wild species in Florida as part of his project, Florida Wildlife Corridor. And above all the species, the Florida panther caught his interest in an incredible way.

“It’s taken [me] 20 years to get this photo,” and more than 2,000 miles through Florida’s wilderness for Carlton to finally take the perfect shot. But after countless failed attempts he managed to meet the majestic creature he has so much admiration for, at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.  And the interaction was so deep, the photographer called it “an encounter that I’ll be talking about the rest of my life.”

And when you’re trying to grab some frames with these wild creatures, for almost two decades, when that moment comes, it is unquestionably overwhelming.

“When the panther sat down 20 yards away and looked straight at me, I was ready. I focused on her eyes and captured the moment she gave me,”Carlton recalls the moment. “My body was pulsing with energy. I have captured some powerful pictures with my camera traps, but there was an entirely different level of emotional connection looking into the eyes of this wild panther while she was looking right back at me.”

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Florida panther is called the last puma in the Eastern U.S. Known as one of the most elusive mammals in the North America, this extremely vulnerable wild cat is a cougar subspecies who lives in pinelands and hardwood hammocks.

In early 80s the animal was chosen the Florida state animal. Back then, there were around 20 individual remained in the wild, after humans destroyed its wild habitats. In 2017, after tireless conservation efforts, the Florida’s panther population number was up to 230 individuals.

On the other hand, thee are still so many wild cats on the verge of extinction.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *