Researchers have given little chance of rebuilding the Florida Panther population. In 1995, about 20 individuals lived in the wild. Crossing with Texas Panther increased one of the most endangered mammal populations in the world.
Reducing the Natural Environment
In the past, the panther inhabited the southeastern United States, today they live only in south Florida. The cat began disappearing after the settlers arrived in America in the 17th century. As a result of deforestation and other human activities, the panther lost much of its natural habitat.
Florida panther moves in forests, swamps, steppes, and hunts mainly white-tailed deer, pigs, raccoons, and armadillos. Their prey also lost its natural environment, so hungry cats resorted to hunting cattle calves in the absence of natural food. Local farmers killed panthers until the 20th century.
Today, the most significant danger for the panthers is transport. New roads divide the original territories and create barriers in the places where the animals travel. When isolated individuals decide to overcome these obstacles, they often end up under the car’s wheels.
Especially males, which tend to have up to 500 km, need large, protected areas, a varied landscape with forests, wetlands, steppes, and pastures. Protecting the Florida panther’s environment is hope for many other animal and plant species.
Crossbreeding Mature Individuals
The critical state of the population, which biologicals estimated at 20 to 25 animals in 1995, led to a radical decision. The cats were transported to Florida from Texas, which is genetically closest to the Florida panther. Although this crossed two subspecies, the Florida population was saved. The number of individuals began to rise, and the entire population was largely recovered.
Currently, about 100 to 180 panthers live in southern Florida. In order for a population to be considered stable, there must be at least 500 individuals. The Florida panther is one of the most endangered mammals in the world.
Featured photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31364438, Autor: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Flickr