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National Geographic Explorer & Conservation Photographer Carlton Ward, Jr.

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Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr.
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National Geographic Image Collec
A female and three kittens explore Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a reserve of old-growth cypress forest surrounded by encroaching suburbs on three sides. Many of these camera trap images took years to capture because of the cats’ rarity, their unpredictable movements, and the difficulty involved in getting the right lighting. Florida’s weather can be a challenge too: One camera was lost during a hurricane but was later recovered. (Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr.)

A feature story in the April issue of National Geographic magazine highlights the importance of a network of public and private lands that runs throughout the state called the Florida Wildlife Corridor — and the crucial role it plays to help ensure Florida wildlife’s long-term survival.

It features stunning photographs of the endangered Florida panther. Our guest today spent more than five years working to collect those images. Tampa-based National Geographic photographer and 8th generation Floridian Carlton Ward Jr. set up state-of-the-art camera traps in the south Florida woods and swamps to capture these images of the highly elusive cats.

He joins us to talk about this effort, his career as a conservation photographer, and his work with the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which he co-founded with Tom Hoctor in 2012.

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Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr.
A male panther leaps over a creek at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Florida. The rarely seen cats, which number only around 200, are reclaiming territory north of the Everglades, but their habitat is threatened by encroaching suburban sprawl. (Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr.)