THE Iberian Lynx, widely considered to be the most endangered big cat on the planet, has bred in the Montes de Toledo for the first time in 30 years, according to the team responsible for the EU-funded ‘Iberlince’ Life project.
Two females which were born in captivity and released last year have each been spotted with four cute cubs using a series of camera traps installed in their territories.
The first mother is named Keres and originated from the breeding centre at Zarza de Granadailla in Caceres, Extremadura, while the second litter belongs to Kuna who was originally released from the centre at Silves in Portugal in December 2014.
Both litters are around 45 days old, and the field team must be careful not to disturb them as they enter one of the more delicate phases of their development as they begin to fight without understanding their own strength, and may harm or even kill one another.
“This happens with first-time mothers in particular, because once they have experience they know when to separate their cubs,” said Ramon Perez de Ayala, head of the Iberlince scheme.
The survival rate of young lynx in the wild is normally around 70 per cent, but these cubs will receive some assistance, as project staff will release live rabbits, their principal food.
Although this counts as a successful step in the battle to save the species from extinction, critics say that the current multimillion-euro reintroduction projects do not take climate change and other long-term factors into account.