Okefenokee Swamp | Blackwater, National Geographic Magazine: Endangered Florida Panther

Youthful panther with large, clear eyes, looks up while lying on the ground resting.

A Florida panther lies under a fallen tree, keeping on eye on his surroundings. Few survive in the forests and swamps of southern Florida. The species is also known as the cougar, mountain lion, and puma, but in Florida it is exclusively known as the panther.

The Florida panther currently has only two natural predators—alligators and humans. The highest causes of mortality for Florida panthers are automobile collisions and territorial aggression between panthers, but the primary threat to the population as a whole is loss of habitat.

Efforts to save the endangered Florida panther, which number between 80 and 100 according to Defenders of Wildlife, are being made at the White Oak Conservation Center in Florida. Located along the St. Marys River, the center spans 600 acres and is surrounded by 6,800 acres of pine and hardwood forest and wetlands.

Established in 1982 by philanthropist Howard Gilman, White Oak Conservation Center maintains genetically diverse populations of threatened species in spacious, natural facilities. According to the White Oak web site description calls it a “complex of research, husbandry, education and conference facilities,” which “leads professional efforts to improve veterinary care, develop holistic animal management techniques, and better understand the biology of critically endangered species. “