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Closer look: Linking land for the last Iberian lynx

Iberian lynx
Written by: Paul Hotham
Other posts by Paul Hotham

The highly charismatic Iberian lynx was once common throughout Spain and Portugal. The species has declined dramatically with the most recent reports indicating that there are fewer than 300 wild individuals left, mainly restricted to three isolated populations in southern Spain.

The Iberian lynx is the most endangered cat species in the world. The decline in lynx populations is due to a number of factors including scarcity of prey, loss and fragmentation of its cork oak and maquis habitats, road casualties and illegal killing.

It is vital that we not allow this most vulnerable of cats to die out. Please help us protect the Iberian lynx.

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is implementing a strategy for the conservation of the Iberian Lynx and its habitat in Portugal with funding from the FFI’s Halcyon Fund. Our vision is to expand and link this work to include territory in Spain.

Our Strategy

The strategy aims to secure and manage a belt of land across southern Spain and Portugal that will provide a corridor of suitable habitat large enough to support a viable population of this threatened cat.

In addition to protecting a habitat of recognized global importance, the corridor will allow for the reconnection of currently isolated lynx populations and, in the future, for the secure reintroduction into the wild of individuals reared in captive breeding facilities.

A key to the recovery of the Iberian lynx is the restoration of the rabbit population. Rabbits, which are native to the Iberian Peninsula, form more than 90% of the Iberian lynx diet. A male Iberian lynx catches one rabbit a day, whilst a breeding female will need up to five rabbits a day to raise her family.

The introduction of myxomatosis and the subsequent impact of haemorrhagic fever almost resulted in the local extinction of rabbits in Iberia, and populations now stand at only 5% of their 1950s levels. Land management strategies include improving the habitat for rabbits, which will benefit breeding lynx.

Useful links

LPN LIFE+
Projecto LIFE Lince Moura/Barrancos

Written by
Paul Hotham

Other posts by Paul Hotham

The decline in Iberian lynx populations is due to a number of factors including scarcity of prey, loss and fragmentation of its cork oak and maquis habitats, road casualties and illegal killing.

Paul Hotham

Eurasia Regional Director

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