Drawn in by the haunting specter of the Florida panther, National Geographic photographer Jr. Carlton Ward and a coalition of biologists, ranchers, conservationists and Indigenous peoples find themselves on the front lines of an accelerating battle between forces of renewal and destruction that have pushed the Everglades to the brink of ecological collapse. As one of the most elusive and endangered wild cats in the world, the plight of the panther inspired a visionary idea: a wildlife corridor or “wild path” that could one day stretch into every corner of North America. What began as a moonshot photo and film mission, Path of the Panther evolved into a groundbreaking collaboration between the National Geographic Society and other partners that inspired the passage of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, the first legislation of its kind and a blueprint for addressing habitat fragmentation and species extinction across the globe.
- Eric Bendick
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Path of the Panther Project
As the last big cat surviving in the eastern United States, the panther is an emblem of our once connected world. An icon of our last wild places. A vision of what could be again. Through impactful storytelling, field programs, and conservation campaigns, the Path of the Panther Project works to inspire the protection and formal recognition of the land the Florida panther needs to survive — the Florida Wildlife Corridor — which serves both humans and wildlife. What began as a moonshot photo and film mission is evolving into a movement. The panther, one of the most elusive and endangered wild cats in the world, has been the catalyst for a visionary idea. In 2021, the passage of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act became the first legislation of its kind - a blueprint for addressing habitat fragmentation and species extinction across the globe. Today, the movement continues to grow. The world stands at a crossroads - and the panther is leading the way.