Apr 21, 2023 - Climate

Filmmaker takes fight to save Florida panther to streaming platforms

A Florida panther perches on a tree branch, appearing ready to pounce.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

National Geographic photographer Carlton Ward Jr. is debuting his documentary "Path of the Panther" this week on streaming channels to boost awareness about the endangered Florida panther and how the Florida Wildlife Corridor can help.

Why it matters: The Florida panther is an "umbrella species," he told Axios Today. "[If] you protect the land you need to save one panther, you end up saving habitat for so many other species of wildlife that depend on that same land."

Catch up quick: Ward helped create the 18 million-acre corridor, a network of public and private lands, and waterways that stretches from the Everglades in the south to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

  • The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act passed unanimously in the state Legislature in 2021, putting hundreds of millions of dollars toward securing access to habitats for roaming wildlife like the panther.

Be smart: A male Florida panther needs a range of 200 square miles — four times the size of Miami — to survive.

What we're watching: Conservationists and state officials are trying to conserve land within the corridor, but Ward says it's a "race against time" as to whether they can save enough land, fast enough to secure the network's connections.

  • Although nearly a hundred thousand acres of land have been saved in the state since the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act passed, Ward says there's still nearly 900,000 more acres at risk over the next seven years.
  • He says he hopes his documentary and book can help.

Details: "Path of the Panther" is streaming on the National Geographic Channel on Earth Day, Hulu on April 23, and on Disney+ from April 28.

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