Carlton Ward Jr@carltonward

Photographer and Explorer @NatGeo | Focused on wild nature hidden in plain sight | #FloridaWild #PathofthePanther

http://www.PathofthePanther.com/

A historic stilt house in Biscayne National Park stands as a vestige of Florida’s coastal heritage against the skyline of downtown Miami — Florida’s busiest city. Shot #onassignment for @NatGeoTravel #Miami #BiscayneBay @biscaynenps


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My focus on wildlife corridors in Florida was motivated in 2006. I was photographing a cattle ranch in the Northern Everglades and met biologist Joe Guthrie (@joeguthrie8) who was studying black bears there with with University of KY and @archboldstation. Joe caught the bear in this photo, named M13, and fitted it with a GPS tracking collar. Data from M13 and other bears in the study told the remarkable story of how different landscapes can work together as one. State parks, national wildlife refuges, military bases, state forests, orange groves and cattle ranches were all functioning together as large connected habitat from the perspective of wide ranging bears. The black bears of the Northern Everglades and the private lands on which they depend, and the relentless conversion of natural and agricultural lands into roads and housing developments, inspired me and colleagues to found the Florida Wildlife Corridor campaign (@FL_WildCorridor) for the purpose of demonstrating that a statewide wildlife corridor exists, and can still be saved. Joe’s bear project was started by David Maehr (third photo), who was one of the first biologists to advocate for the importance of working farms and ranches for wide ranging species, especially the Florida panthers and Florida black bears that were his expertise. Maehr died tragically in a plane crash tracking a missing black bear in 2008. Our work with the Florida Wildlife Corridor and my current #pathofthepanther project with @natgeo strive to continue his legacy. #bear #wildlife #corridor #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild


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There is a saying that cats don't like water, but for the endangered Florida panther, the ability to live in flooded forests and wetlands has been a matter of survival. The Florida panther is the last puma surviving in the eastern United States, where the species was hunted or displaced from most of its range, except for the southern tip of Florida. Before roads and canals were built to cut and drain the land, the inhospitable, watery wilderness protected panthers from persecution by settlers who were moving south into the rest of the peninsula. The same difficult terrain also helped Seminole Indians endure three wars with US calvalry and remain unconquered. To show a panther walking in water, I set one of my camera traps — a studio in the woods — deep in the Fakahatchee Strand on a seasonally flooded trail. This is the same camera trap that photographed the great blue heron from my last post. Finally, after several months trying, a panther came through. Part of my #PathofthePanther project with @Natgeo, working to inspire the protection of the @FL_WildCorridor through the story of the endangered Florida panther. #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild #swamplife @myfwc @usfws


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We visited this large cypress tree in the Reedy Creek Swamp during the @FL_WildCorridor #heartland2headwaters Expedition that ended on Earth Day. This scene was wild but intense development was less than a mile away. Our purpose was to explore one of the last remaining wildlife corridors connecting the Everglades north to the rest of Florida and the US across Interstate 4 — the most dangerous road in America that is funneling development outward from Orlando and threatening to cut the state of Florida in half. I hope more of Florida’s 21 million residents and 100 million annual visitor will enjoy the impressive network of parks and trails hiding in plain sight of the amusement parks while helping inspire lawmakers to protect wildlife corridors before it’s too late. #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild. With @mallorydimmitt @joeguthrie8 @danny_schmidt and @implementproductions.


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This is a new photo from one of my camera trap systems at Babcock Ranch. I abandoned this site last June when summer rains started to fill the swamp and redeployed there in early April, hoping to capture a few weeks of dry season activity. No panthers yet, but this coyote passed in front of my camera a few times in April. Hogs, deer and turkey too, so hopefully a panther will soon follow. Part of my #PathofthePanther project with @Natgeo working to inspire the protection of the @FL_WildCorridor through the story of the endangered Florida panther. @myfwc #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild #Coyote #wildlife #Florida


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[2 photos and a map] It felt wild and ancient when we hung our hammocks in the dark Reedy Creek swamp after a day of hiking. But the noise of traffic to our east and west would not let us forget that this thread of the Florida Wildlife Corridor is squeezed by development sprawling out from Orlando and that the roads and houses of this other world were less than a half mile away. See the link in my bio for the story in Sunday’s @tampabaytimes. The #Heartland2Headwaters Expedition began April 15 at The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve in the vast Everglades Headwaters and entered a bottleneck in the Corridor — a last green thread — that connects through intense development and across Interstate 4 to the Green Swamp Wilderness west of Orlando. Our purpose was to explore the fragile connections that will soon be lost without serious investments in land protection. The Everglades could inadvertently be cut off from the rest of America. Our trek ended on Earth Day. With @mallorydimmitt @joeguthrie8 @grizzlycreekfilms @danny_schmidt @implementproductions @3bearsmedia @bendicci @alexofthewild @trisaratops409 @fl_wildcorridor @nature_org @natureflorida


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The bright green of new cypress needles is a hallmark of spring in Florida swamps. At Babcock Ranch, reflections of the surrounding trees color the surface of ponds in the Telegraph Swamp, where a large alligator breaks up the green mirror at the surface. It was still enough I was able to capture a composite panoramic — panning my tripod head to shoot several overlapping vertical frames that were later reassembled into a single ultra high resolution photograph. This swamp can be seen by visiting the @babcockranchecotour. Babcock Ranch is the site of the first female panther documented north of the Everglades since 1973. I am following this story for my #pathofthepanther project with @natgeo. Babcock Ranch is part of the @fl_wildcorridor which we visited during the 2012 Everglades to Okefenokee Expedition. #floridawild #keepflwild


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Healed from a vehicle strike, an endangered Florida panther was returned to the wild last week with her two cubs. The Florida panther is the last subspecies of the puma surviving in eastern United States. Motor vehicle collisions, the leading cause of panther mortality, kill nearly 35 per year. This panther mother was struck by a vehicle near Naples in December and rescued by biologists from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission @MyFWC. They knew she had young offspring that could not survive on their own and successfully caught two cubs and rejoined them with their mother at White Oak Conservation, where the family was rehabilitated with minimal contact by humans. This is the first time a Florida panther family has been returned to the wild together. This was the second time this panther mother had been hit by a car. The scar on her right hip is from a previous surgery. Please see the link in my bio for the full story. Shot for my #PathofthePanther project with National Geographic focused on the protection of the @fl_wildcorridor that panthers and other wildlife need to survive. #panther @freshfromflorida #floridawild #keepflwild


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The @fl_wildcorridor #Heartland2Headwaters Expedition begins today from The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve near Orlando. Lake Russell, seen here from a helicopter in the fall, is one of the last undeveloped lakes in Central Florida. It is in the headwaters of the Everglades, a watershed that encompasses the southern half of the Florida peninsula and provides water for nine million people. Over the next week we’ll be exploring one of the last wildlife corridors that can still connect the Everglades to the Green Swamp across Interstate 4, which is quickly becoming a solid wall of development between Tampa and Orlando. Our Expedition will be exploring whether there is still hope to protect and restore wildlife and water connections than can prevent the Everglades from being cut off by development from the rest of Florida and America. Please follow @carltonward @fl_wildcorridor @grizzlycreekfilms and @danny_schmidt this week for reports from the field. @natureflorida #FloridaWild #Everglades #FloridaWildlifeCorridor #CorridorataCrossroads #KeepFLWild


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Healed from a vehicle strike, an endangered Florida panther returns to the wild with her two cubs. The Florida panther is the last subspecies of the puma surviving in eastern United States. Motor vehicle collisions, the leading cause of panther mortality, kill nearly 35 per year. This panther mother was struck by a vehicle near Naples in December and rescued by biologists from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission @MyFWC. They knew she had young offspring that could not survive on their own and successfully caught and rejoined two cubs with their mother at White Oak Conservation, where the family was rehabilitated with minimal contact by humans. This is the first time a Florida panther family has been returned to the wild together. See the link in my bio for the film story. Shot for my #PathofthePanther project with National Geographic focused on the protection of the @fl_wildcorridor that panthers and other wildlife need to survive. #panther @freshfromflorida #floridawild #keepflwild


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Today is #EvergladesDay! I captured this photo just after sunset from a Cessna 177 airplane looking out over the Ten Thousand Islands. Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, including the largest contiguous protective mangrove forest in the western hemisphere. The park has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and a Wetland of International Importance, one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists. #Everglades #Mangroves #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild


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“Native Pride” marks the hands of Kane Jumper, a Native American from the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Known as the the only unconquered tribe in the United States, the Seminoles are descendants of Creeks who persevered in the Everglades through three wars with the US military. I find it no coincidence that the Florida panther, the last puma to survive in the eastern US did so in harsh South Florida swamps alongside the Seminoles. Kane Jumper is a member of the panther clan, a lineage inherited from his mother. #nativepride #seminole #Everglades #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild @fl_wildcorridor @flcattlemen #pathofthepanther


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