Where the Gators Roam
Alligators and Florida are like Kenya and lions or China and pandas. In the mind, they are inseparable, part of the fabric of the culture. In the Sunshine State you see them everywhere: on signs of golf courses, on branding. The University of Florida’s football team is called the Gators. You can even eat them.
But every time a hapless ‘gator is found in someone’s swimming pool or on the 12th hole of the local golf course you become acutely aware that we are in their territory and not the other way round. Unfortunately, rapid building development in Florida means that the alligator is increasingly caught out and is more and more likely to be an unwelcome squatter on ever expanding residential and commercial zones.
So, while in America I jumped at the chance to see these mysterious, and perhaps harshly judged, animals in their natural habitat: Florida’s Everglades.
I was there (albeit further north, in the Sawgrass region) the same day as President Obama visited the everglades on Earth Day to remind his country, and Florida in particular, that nature is not to be taken for granted. The Everglades were rapidly diminishing but only through sustained protection and management programs have they been brought back from the brink, with swamp previously drained to be used as farm land returning to its original state.