Iberian Lynx continues to flourish after successful conservation efforts in Spain and Portugal.
Two decades ago, it was hard to see how the Iberian Lynx would survive with fewer than 100 of them thought to still be alive. However, thanks to conservation efforts, captive breeding and habitat management, their numbers are soaring … and show no signs of slowing down.
The beautiful creatures dominated the Iberian scrubland for millennia however had you tried to see one in the wild not that long ago you would have found it exceptionally hard. In 2002, there were thought to be less than 100 left in the wild, with only a quarter of those thought to be breeding age females, according to a report by the New York Times.
As a result of the species devastation, the LIFE+ Iberlince programme was founded with assistance from the European Union which has seen wild numbers in Spain and Portugal increase to estimate of over 900.
Miguel Simón, retired director of the Lynx LIFE program, said, “If someone told me 20 years ago that we would achieve such results, I would have thought they were out of their mind,”
As captive breeding programmes became more successful, the animals were started to be released into the wild.
Rodrigo Serra, director of the Silves breeding centre said, “Genetic diversity is key for the species’ survival. To better protect the lynx, we have to defend it at all costs. An even distribution across the centres gives us a greater guarantee that if something goes wrong in one facility, the impact for the species is minimised.”
The programme has been so successful that the species has spread well beyond the original 100 square miles release area and has progressed into established populations in the Spanish regions of Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura, and across the border in southern Portugal.
Although still classed officially as an endangered species, the Iberian Lynx has been moved off of the critically endangered list for the first time in years.
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