Florida panther is a subspecies of cougar found in thick forests and swamps of Florida. These felines had a wide range of locality in the past and were spread in different parts of the state. The population of these large cats have fallen drastically in the last few decades, and they are #Critically Endangered now with only 400 individuals reported in the wild. Unfortunatel, these mammals were also neglected by the wildlife authorities in the past.
Causes of the rapid fall in population of the Florida panther
Florida panther is one of the most beautiful animals found in the wild. The major cause for the significant fall in the population of these beautiful large cats is poaching. A large number of these animals are killed every year for their valuable skin. In 1970, there were reports that only 30 #Florida Panthers exist in the wild due to excessive hunting. At the start of the eighteenth century, there were around two million of these large cats in the Southern part of Florida, but vigorous hunting finished these beautiful carnivores from most of the forests.
Loss of habitat is another factor that led to the alarming downfall in the population of these ferocious cats. Florida panthers live in the thick forests and marshy swamps where they prey on small animals including deer, wild boar, fish, rat, turtle, and small alligators. In recent years, a large number of these forests have been cut down due to industrial development. Many of the panthers were killed during this process, and the negligence from wildlife officials caused a further downfall in the number of these predators. Florida panthers are territorial, and they often fight and kill each other in territorial fights. These large cats are also hunted by large American alligators when they cross the lakes and swamps of the forests in Florida.
Steps needed the protect the Florida Panther
In 1971, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission started the conservation program to protect the Florida panther from extinction, but people continued occasional hunting of these large cats. The conservation program did not produce the desired results and only 411 individuals were reported in 2011. This number increased only marginally with 441 adult Florida panthers reported in 2016.
The wildlife authorities should take strict action against the people involved in the hunting and encroachment of Florida panthers. Artificial forests must be planted in different parts of Florida to protect these beautiful felines. These large cats must also be introduced to the thick jungles of Florida where there is a large population of other herbivores including deer and wild pigs. Wildlife officials should also take steps to protect Florida panthers from other apex predators including American alligator.