Iberian Lynx: Back from the Brink

It seems that efforts to save the Iberian Lynx have succeed in making a step forward.  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its update of the Red List of endangered species and it has downgraded the Iberian Lynx from Critically Endangered to Endangered.  The Red List is updated every four years and the Iberian Lynx has been listed as Critically Endangered since 2002.   In 2002, there were only 52 individuals left and now the number has jumped to 156, due in large part to an EU funded LIFE project during the last 3 years.  The project has had a multi prong intensive approach which included restoration of rabbit populations, its main source of food, monitoring of illegal traps, captive breeding, reintroduction projects and importantly systems of compensations for property owners.  The Lynx has even been photographed in Portugal where they had been declared extinct.

Despite the positive news, the work is far from over.  The LIFE project continues to support the conservation work because there are still serious problems to be addressed such as the increase in collisions with vehicles and the most concern is the strain of viral hemorrhagi disease of the rabbit which decimates the lynx’s main food source.

Currently, the lynx is concentrated in only two areas in southern Spain, Donana and Sierra Morena, both protected areas but not contiguous.  In addition, there is plans to continue with reintroduction into areas of its historcally range, such as Portugal and other central regions of Spain

Karin Eckhard

Karin Eckhard is an international sustainable tourism expert based in Madrid, Spain

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