I spent my birthday checking camera traps at Babcock Ranch State Preserve, an important piece of the Florida Wildlife Corridor east of Ft. Myers. I’ve been working at Babcock Ranch because it’s where colleagues at @myfwc recently documented the first female panther north of the Caloosahatchee River since 1973. She’s in the territory of this handsome male, who could become the father of the first generation of panther kittens to be born in the Northern Everglades in my lifetime. Please help me follow this story and stay on the front lines of the fight to save wild Florida from development that is consuming 20 acres or wildlife habitat per hour. Link in my bio. PathofthePanther.com. Thanks to @natgeo@nature_org@palmbeachzoo and other partners who have helped so far. #pathofthepanther#panther#floridawildlifecorridor@fl_wildcorridor#floridawild#keepflwild@natgeocreative@ilcp_photographers
I spent the weekend at my family’s place in Hardee County and took the opportunity this evening to fly my drone two miles west across our cousins’ ranch to check out the Peace River, which flows from headwaters in the Green Swamp north of Tampa all the way south to Charlotte Harbor near Ft Myers. The Peace River Valley, in addition to being the heart of an essential watershed, serves as a wildlife corridor connecting millions of acres of land. #floridawild#pathofthepanther#keepflwild#peaceriver@ilcp_photographers
Caladesi Island has been an inspiration to me since childhood, since growing up Gulf Coast of Florida near the city of Clearwater amidst the most densely populated county in the southeastern US. Caladesi was, and remains, a last remnant of nature amidst a landscape completely consumed by development. I later learned that my great grandfather helped save Caladesi as a state park in the 1960s. Caladesi was the first place in Florida I pointed my lens after becoming a photographer in college, and I can now clearly see how the island has shaped my career and purpose for saving wild Florida. Standing on the north end of Clearwater Beach beside the Gulf of Mexico, it is my favorite place to watch the full moon rise above the pines as palms. #firstname.lastname@example.org#floridawild#keepflwild#gulfofmexico#moonrise. Please follow me @carltonward for more glimpses of the hidden wild.
>> multiple photos >> Buck Island Ranch, home to the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center, is a living laboratory in the Northern Everglades west of Lake Okeechobee. Generational ranchers raise beef cattle while scientists from @archboldstation study the effects of grazing on grasslands, wetlands, water storage, biodiversity and carbon sequestration. Results are revealing the benefits of low density cattle to all of these factors. In these photos, restoration ecologist Dr. Betsey Boughton examines a sample of fish from a study wetland, ranch manager and multi-generation cattlemen Gene Lollis leads me through a broomsage prairie, he and his son Laurent rope a rebellious cracker bull, Laurent catches a stray calf, ecologist and PhD student Wes Anderson listens for wild hogs he is monitoring with radio collars. @fl_wildcorridor@flcattlemen#floridawild#keepflwild#floridaranch with @grizzlycreekfilms@bendicci@jeffreedfilm@3bearsmedia@malia_byrtus@alexjanephoto
A male Florida panther triggers a camera trap set on a trail at Babcock Ranch State Preserve. The Florida panther is the last puma living in the eastern United States. Recovering from as few as 30 individuals, there are nearly 200 today, primarily in South Florida. In order to recover from being endangered, there needs to be two additional populations of 200 or more panthers elsewhere in Florida or the Southeast. The good news is that the Florida Wildlife Corridor still connects the Everglades to the rest of the state and country. But we must act soon to invest in additional land conservation so that the Corridor is not lost to development. This photo was captured on spring of 2017 when the swamps were dry. The water in this spot now is more than a meter deep. To see the next frame, check out @natgeotravel and stay tuned to @carltonward as I follow the #pathofthepanther for the National Geographic Society. #panther#floridawild#keepflwild@fl_wildcorridor.
>>swipe for more>> The first cool fall weather means saying goodbye to summer thunderstorms like this band sweeping over Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande Pass to the Gulf of Mexico. In can be magical there when the elements collide; warm sun and sea breeze from the Gulf giving their best resistance to cool thunderheads and outgoing tides pressing seaward from the bay. #gulfofmexico#florida#floridawild#bocagrande#storm
Florida cattleman Elton Langford leads a herd of Brangus cattle across a pasture at Babcock Ranch. Ranchers need vast spreads of land to support their cattle and these same lands are essential to the survival of the Everglades and Florida wildlife. Many ranches are critical linkages connecting public lands within the Florida Wildlife Corridor. @fl_wildcorridor#keepflwild#ranch#aerial
Most of my camera traps were water damaged by Hurricane Irma. This setup captured a Florida black bear taking the high road through the swamp before rising water overtook the trigger system and lowest flash. Black bears rely on forests and range widely, making them great ambassadors for connecting and restoring large landscapes. #swampbear#pathofthepanther@fl_wildcorridor#floridawild#keepflwild.
The light rain was falling steadily at 6 PM Friday when we met Bobby, Lou and Morgan Yates at the cow pens. The previous morning we had ridden horseback through a palm and oak hammock where Morgan had stopped to pick fruit from a wild orange tree. The late morning light wasn't great and Bobby and Morgan offered to come back and bring her traditional Seminole dress. But as afternoon thunderstorms lingered, hope of any sunset light was fading and I wondered whether we would need to try another day. Then Morgan climbed on her horse bareback and led us across the pasture toward the woods. She grew up in the saddle and carries her Seminole heritage with grace. We had fun trying to make pictures in dim dusk light and half drowned two cameras in the process. Morgan was unfazed by the rain, not surprising since she drove cattle through an actual hurricane when she was 6. I am thankful that the Yates have shared some of their world with me. #seminole#nativepride#pantherclan#pathofthepanther@fl_wildcorridor#keepflwild#loveFL#pureflorida
Meet Malia Byrtus, here testing the lighting and focus of a trail camera in the Fakahatchee. As an intern from the University of Miami's Exploration Science Master's program, she is helping me photograph the #pathofthepanther. It is inspiring to work with a young person passionate about protecting our planet. Be sure to follow her @malia_byrtus ・・・ #Repost: Recently I've had a few friends and family members ask me what in the world I've been doing for the past two months... Well, I guess it's about time I explain. Since May I have been interning for National Geographic Explorer, conservation photographer, and awesome mentor @carltonward . For three more months, I'll be camping out with Carlton in his airstream trailer tucked away in the FL backcountry. As an intern, I assist Carlton with his network of remote camera traps located throughout southwest Florida. The camera traps are a non-invasive way to look into the unique lives of the most inspiring wildlife species we have in the United States. The Florida black bear and endangered Florida panther in particular, are animals that need vast amounts of habitat to roam and thrive in. But as human population and development expands in our state, critical wildlife habitat is taken away and encroached upon. I've been lucky enough to meet some of the people who live and work on the essential lands that connect and protect the @fl_wildcorridor , including cowboys and ranchers from the Seminole tribe of Florida. It is clear that if we can protect the wildlife corridor, then we can also protect a future for ourselves. Wild FL provides us with the land and water we all need to survive. As part of my masters degree in Exploration Science @umiamirsmas@umiamimp, I'll be creating my own individual project that uses visual media and storytelling to communicate conservation. As the internet and social media are increasingly used for advocacy and awareness, I believe they can also be tremendous tools for self efficacy and action. If there's one thing I want people to understand, it's that Florida has some of the most beautiful and diverse environments on the planet. Please join me in defending them, and never stop exploring!
A female Florida black bear sniffs the air while crossing a cypress strand in Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. These waters are part of the Fakahatchee Strand which naturally drains the western Everglades towards Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Gulf of Mexico. Four million acres of contiguous protected land in South Florida provide key habitat for wide ranging species such as bears and panthers. Whether we protect enough of the Florida Wildlife Corridor to keep the Southern Everglades connected to the Northern Everglades will determine whether the Everglades watershed and Florida panther can be revived. #pathofthepanther#floridawild@fl_wildcorridor#keepflwild#bear#fakahatchee@ilcp_photographers@natgeo
Seminole Indian cowboy Adam Turtle and his dogs steer a herd on of Brangus cattle at the Brighton Reservation. I'm experimenting here using infrared photography from a camera designed to capture wildlife at night using invisible light. What do you think about the look for ranching scenes? #floridawild#pathofthepanther@fl_wildcorridor#seminole#nativepride
Here's a glimpse of yesterday's sunset in Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, where the Everglades meets the Gulf of Mexico and one of my favorite places. South Florida boasts the largest contiguous protected mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere. On World Mangrove Day, let's commit to protecting and restoring more of this endangered ecosystem. Throughout the world, mangroves are critical for fisheries, wildlife, and local communities. Mangroves also help combat climate change. I just wrapped up a video shoot with @lssmedia for a short piece about my work with the @fl_wildcorridor. @ilcp_photographers#mangrove#everglades#florida#UpWorthy
It gives me hope for our planet to meet young people connected to the land and committed to their heritage. For Kane Jumper that heritage runs deeper than most. As a Seminole from the Panther Clan, he carries forward 500 years of tradition with horses and cattle and thousands of years in the land we now call America. This week, Kane is working with his family and coworkers to gather cattle from their Brighton and Big Cypress Reservations. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the 7th largest producer of beef cattle in the US, all while sustaining their culture, protecting the Everglades from development and maintaining wildlife habitat critical to the @FL_WildCorridor. @young_savage1993#NativePride#Seminole#pathofthepanther#LivingHeritage#KeepFLWild@natgeo@ilcp_photographers
I had the privilege of spending a few days last week with the Seminole Tribe of Florida at their Brighton Reservation documenting their fast moving cow work that is as important to Florida's agricultural economy and wildlife habitat as it is to their own culture. Seminoles descend from a Chief called Cowkeeper who acquired cattle from Spanish Rancheros around 1700. In this photo, Andre Jumper, Adam Turtle, Bobby Yates, Kane Jumper and Justin Gopherr keep their heritage alive moving a group of calves through wooden pens. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the 7th largest producer of beef cattle in the United States. #livingheritage#seminoletribe#keepflwild#floridawild@flcattlemen@ilcp_photographers#pathofthepanther#leicacamerausa#leicaakademieusa#leicaq
I spent two mornings with cowboys from the Lykes Ranch in South Central Florida as they rode out Angus bulls from the herd. Summer is the peak of Florida ranch work and also the rainy season. Some ranches received 20+ inches in June. Mixed pastures, wetlands and woodlands on ranches help to clean and hold water flowing south through the Everglades watershed. Spreading across 338,000 acres in Highlands and Glades Counties, @lykesbros is the 4th largest producer of beef cattle in the United States and an important partner helping to store water in the northern Everglades and protect important wildlife habitat within the Florida Wildlife Corridor. @LykesBros@FL_WildCorridor#cowboys#ranching#KeepFLWild. #leicacamerausa#leicaakademieusa#leicaq
I love the thunderstorms that rumble off the Florida peninsula on summer afternoons. If you're in a boat offshore you can see them coming and race towards blue sky. Sometimes you escape. Other times you get soaked. The object on the horizon is a historic stilt house at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico near Tarpon Springs. That afternoon, I was able to park my boat beneath the deck of the house and ride out the storm. #floridawild#gulfofmexico