Sunday, October 21, 2007

Florida Panther

Today, I changed my profile picture from a Tiger to a Panther. I am very drawn to big cats. Their power, stealth, beauty, grace - their all round magnificence - delight and humble me.

Here in Florida, our state animal is the Florida Panther Puma concolor coryi’ and is one of the most endangered mammals on earth. It is tawny brown on the back and pale gray underneath. The Florida panther is one of 30 Puma concolor subspecies known by many names – puma, cougar, mountain lion, painter, catamount and panther.

Height 23-27 inches at the shoulder for males; females are smaller
Length 7 feet from nose to tip of tail for males; 6 feet for females
Weight males average 130 lbs; females 70-75 lbs

Lifespan 10-15 years

Habitat loss and uncontrolled hunting reduced the Florida panther to only about 35 animals by the 1980s. Cougars once ranged in the thousands across the eastern United States, but the Florida panther is the only cougar subspecies that still survives east of the Mississippi. Protection of some vital habitat has raised the panther population to some 80 animals in recent years and also has helped other listed species, such as wood storks and eastern indigo snakes. But habitat loss persists as a critical threat.

I am blessed to live in a country where there are still big cats in the wild – not fenced in game parks - but just outside our urban boundaries. These cats, while a federally protected species, are still hunted to this day. Generally, I support hunting and have grown up around it. My father loves to shoot, and he would bring home pheasant and deer, rabbits etc. throughout my childhood. We ate a lot of game when I was growing up in England, and to a smaller extent, Barbados. What I don’t understand, is the desire to kill an animal purely for vanity. To hang it on a wall somewhere, as if that’s something to be proud of. What's even harder to understand, is that people do this knowing this species is hanging on by a thread. Is this simply ignorance, or man’s ego that he must dominate every creature? I don’t really know, but it saddens me deeply.


45govt said...

Good post. Speaking as one old hunter, I find I have less and less desire to kill as each year passes, but look back on my hunting history with great pleasure.
Nowadays, I am much more selective, and there are things, woodcock for instance, that I no longer wish to shoot, but have no desire to limit others' pleasure in so doing.

Lady Jane said...

I think that the joy of experiencing the creature in its natural habitat - especially the more you learn of it and what makes it unique to its ecosystem - lessens the desire to destroy it. Of that we can thank Animal Planet and National Geographic etc.

I see no harm in hunting in a controlled and dignified way, however, trophy hunting is unique in its use of practices that are a disgrace to the sport, and of men (and women) everywhere.

Thanks for your comment:)

Lady Jane said...

Correction: I should have said that we can thank AP & NG for bringing knowledge to the MASSES.
Zoo's, animal sanctuaries etc, have an important role, but its a fleeting impression compared to the power of TV - in my humble opinion of course!

killemallletgodsortemout said...

I have always been fascinated by the big cats.

I love the way they run whilst keeping their head on a level plane. The look of concentration is amazing. So sleek, and so strong.


Anonymous said...

I am curious, who is this beautiful cat?