Thursday December 02, 2021

In Spain, Iberian lynx claws back from brink of extinction

July 29, 2021

Donana National Park, Spain: At a nature reserve in southern Spain, four baby Iberian lynxes sleep peacefully beside their mother, part of a captive breeding programme that has brought the species back from the brink of extinction.

The El Acebuche breeding centre at the Donana National Park, home to one of Europe’s largest wetlands, is one of five breeding sites set up in the 2000s to boost their numbers in the wild. Four are in Spain and one in Portugal.

Slightly larger than a red fox, the Iberian lynx is distinguished by a white-and-black beard and black ear tufts. There were around 100,000 of them in the two nations at the start of the 20th century, but urban development, hunting and road kill all took their toll.

Most damaging of all however was a dramatic decline in the numbers of wild rabbits, their main prey, due to disease. By 2002, the wild cat’s numbers had plummeted to fewer than 100.