A panther has been found dead in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida. Only between 100 and 160 Florida panthers are known to exist anywhere. 

This makes the Florida panther one of the most endangered animals in the world. The vast majority of these rare animals in the Sunshine State are usually in the southwest of the peninsula. 

Naturalists believe the animal was likely killed by another panther. 

Automobiles are now among the leading causes of death for panthers in the Sunshine State. More than a dozen of the rare felines were killed by cars in 2013, according to wildlife officials. The rising number of deaths by automobile may be a good sign for panthers in Florida. An increasing number of fatalities by motor vehicle show that more of the animals are crossing roads. That likely means their numbers are increasing. 

"We know that the number of road kills per year tracks pretty well with our (educated guess) of the panther population over the years. It's not the preferred method, but it's accurate," Darrell Land, panther biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the press. 

The first recorded death of a Florida panther was in 1972. Around that time, just 20 members of the species were known to exist in the wild. Even today, their habitat has been reduced by 95 percent. This individual is the eighth member of the species to die so far this year in the Sunshine State. 

Florida panthers are called the most dangerous animal in the state. They usually exhibit reddish-brown fur on the tops of their bodies, combined with a gray belly and chest. Deer are among the favorite prey of this species, along with birds and small mammals, such as rabbits and raccoons. Alligators are known to lose fights to the death with these ferocious hunters. Pets can quickly be devoured by these vicious predators. 

Panthers are a subspecies of cougar and are closely related to catamounts and mountain lions. Males of the species can grow to 160 pounds. Florida panthers have been the official state animal since 1982. 

Deborah Jansen is the wildlife biologist who found the dead animal in the Turner River Unit of the preserve. No collar was found on the animal, making identification difficult. Remains of the panther will be forwarded to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

The official cause of death, as well as the approximate age of the feline, will be released by park officials at a later date.

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.