• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Field Note: The Road to Darwin

Published: December 4, 2020

By Mark Seth Lender

On the edge of black panther country (Photo: Mark Seth Lender)

Living on Earth's Explorer-in-Residence Mark Seth Lender shares the backstory of an entirely unanticipated encounter with an elusive Australian black panther.

Cats are specialists. Lions prefer to hunt cooperatively. The cheetah, usually a lone hunter though sometimes not, relies on speed. Leopards and their relatives are loners and depend on silence and stealth - black panthers included. You could have a panther in your local wooded park and never know it. Except for the fluffy little white dogs gone missing. It is not surprising the great cat of this story was far less impressed with us than we were with him. He, his kind, have been watching our mechanized intrusions for more than a century. And human beings in general for millennia. A wrinkle hardly worth ironing out in his tens of thousands of years of existence.

Neither Valerie nor I had heard the occasional and much-disputed reports of Australia’s black panthers in advance of our fieldwork. We were not looking for them. We saw what we saw absent expectation, which is to say, without the contaminating effect of “confirmation bias.” Proof that nothing substitutes for empirical observation (and pure unadulterated luck).

Back to Mark Seth Lender Field Notes


Listen to Mark Seth Lender's essay "The Road to Darwin"

Mark Seth Lender's website


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth