ANDALUCIA’S regional government has inked a deal enabling conservationists to use drone technology to watch over the endangered Iberian Lynx.
The drone company will develop a prototype designed to “advance the monitoring of lynx that have been introduced into the wild” in a bid to save the world’s most endangered cat from extinction.
A massive effort by conservationists in recent years has seen the return of the lynx to the Spanish wilderness after decimation over the past century saw their population reduced to just 94 in small pockets of Andalucia.
By the end of 2014, numbers had risen to 327 due to the intensive efforts and the species was downgraded from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Now the regional government is hoping the drone program will soon replace the current protective model of collared radio devices which have proven helpful but not as efficient as required.
The species has suffered from illegal hunting, and the destruction of their natural habitat. The drones should be able to provide some measure of protection from hunters, while allowing the conservationists to track Lynx movements in a bid to protect their wider environment.
A major threat, however, remains highways, which killed 22 lynxes in 2014 alone.