The Caloosahatchee River was considered to be a barrier to the expansion of the Florida Panthers but, trail cameras have successfully captured photographs of a female in the company of two kittens in Charlotte County, located north of the river. This is a positive sign because these kittens have never been seen in the Everglades. The Los Angeles Times reports that experts view this development as an indication that the endangered species is thriving and simultaneously expanding its range of operation beyond southwest Florida where they generally thrive.

How the discovery was made

The Caloosahatchee River flows along the northern edge of the Everglades and empties into the Gulf of Mexico about 10 miles southwest of Fort Myers. The discovery was made by cameras positioned at the Babcock Ranch Preserve Wildlife Management Area. The initial photographs captured only a female and subsequently recorded the presence of two kittens.

Kipp Frohlich, deputy director for the habitat and species conservation for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission interprets this as a harbinger of good news for the conservation efforts of the Florida panther. He adds that there was evidence of the endangered species breeding south of the Caloosahatchee, and the photographs are proof that panthers are now breeding north of the river as well.

Panthers continue to remain threatened by the real estate development that is eating into their habitat and environmentalists have been heartened by the news, but they believe that the panthers still need protection for survival.

The revival plan

The count of Florida panthers had plummeted to just 20 or 30 and the increase in their population is attributed to various conservation efforts that have been undertaken.

One of these is the protection of territory.

Florida panthers prey on animals like deer and hogs, and the males claim huge territories for themselves which forces the young ones to remain on the fringes. The presence of such an endangered species hinders the work of the developers, and also hunters who hate any competition for the animals they hunt.

Over and above these factors are the ranchers and homeowners who lose domestic animals like calves, goats, chickens and pets to the panthers. Of course, some of the panthers have fallen to bullets or have been victims of road accidents. Therefore, the mother and her kittens are a welcome sight.