Bringing the lynx back home
Since 2002, the Iberian lynx is the most endangered cat in the world. There were less than 100 left in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). The latest survey published in April 2016 by the Government of Andalusia shows positive signs of recovery. 404 lynx have been counted, which is the highest number since this species was declared at risk of extinction.
To help the lynx return home, WWF and its partners (the government, farmers, hunters and the tourism industry) have worked hard to restore the areas where it used to live and where it can still live today.
After securing a core population in Andalusia, they created more space for the lynx to breed and generated new populations in various regions. Based on the number of rabbits (the main food of the lynx) and the quality of the habitat, sites were selected in south-east of Spain and Portugal and by mid-2015, 45 captive-bred lynx had been released from captivity.
The main threat remains poaching but the lack of appropriate prey and road accidents are also real dangers for the survival of this wild animal. Fences and eco-bridges have been built by some local authorities to avoid that the lynx crosses the highways but more needs to be done to prevent other traffic casualties. Of great concern is the rabbit haemorrhagic disease, a contagious virus that dramatically reduced the population of the feline’s main prey in 2011 and that could again jeopardize the lynx's survival.
Thanks to the success of these measures, there are 120 breeding females in areas of Spain (Doñana, Sierra Morena, Montes de Toledo, Valley Matachel ) and Portugal (Vale do Guadiana).
Despite this good news, their future is far from secure.
WWF Spain project for the protection of the lynx is shortlisted for the European Natura 2000 Award - Vote for it by 8 May 2016.
This article was written by WWF in April 2016.