Endangered Iberian lynx inhabitants ‘rebounding’

The population of a species of lynx found in Portugal and Spain has rebounded from being on the path towards extinction, conservationists said Thursday.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said the Iberian lynx was “continuing its dramatic recovery from near extinction thanks to sustained conservation efforts.”

The measures have meant that there has been growth of more than tenfold in the adult population of the species since the beginning of this century. 

Conservation status of Iberian lynx: ‘Endangered’ to ‘Vulnerable’

Efforts to preserve the species have meant the IUCN red list — an inventory of the global conservation status and extinction risk of various species — has required an adjusment.

“The conservation status of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) has improved from Endangered to Vulnerable, with the population increasing exponentially from 62 mature individuals in 2001 to 648 in 2022,” the IUCN said in a media statement.

There had been only 62 adults remaining — sharing the same traits as others in the lynx species, like yellow eyes and stumpy tails — scattered across Mediterranean forests in 2001.

Conservation interventions resulted in a dramatic turnaround for the species, which can be found across a range of thousands of kilometers of harsh terrain including vast areas of mountainous terrain.

The total population was now estimated to be more than 2,000, a number that included young and mature lynx.

Portugal: Saving the Iberian lynx

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Conservationists hail the ‘greatest recovery of a cat species’

“The greatest recovery of a cat species ever achieved through conservation,” said Francisco Javier Salcedo Ortiz, Coordinator of the LIFE Lynx-Connect project, which led the conservation action for the Iberian lynx.

Ortiz said that the success was the result of “committed collaboration between public bodies, scientific institutions, NGOs, private companies, and community members including local landowners, farmers, gamekeepers and hunters.”

Also instrumental in the success seen have been efforts focused on increasing the abundance of its prey, the endangered European rabbit.

This has meant efforts to rehabilitate Mediterranean scrub and forest habitat, and reducing deaths caused by human activity.

Threats facing the Iberian lynx

The IUCN conservation authority warned that the Iberian lynx remained threatened and that was primarily due to the potential for change in the European rabbit population.

The species was also susceptible to diseases found in domestic cats, while poaching and deaths due to road traffic were also highlighted as threats.

Changes to habitat and climate change were also identified as challenges facing the animals.

Reuters material was used in the compilation of this report.

Edited by: Rob Turner