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Iberian lynx

Latin name: Lynx pardinus

Areas: | Portugal |

IUCN Red List conservation status

About: Iberian lynx

“LPN and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) through the lynx programme have managed to secure some of the best land in the country for Iberian lynx. I think with time and common effort, we’ll be able to secure a future for lynx in Portugal.”

Eduardo Santos

Liga Para A Protecção Da Natureza (LPN)

An image relating to Iberian lynx

Did you know that the world’s rarest cat species can be found in Europe? There are only around 300 remaining in the wild.

Iberian lynx facts:

  • Historically, lynx roamed all over Spain and Portugal
  • Only two breeding populations remain, in Coto de Doñana National Park and in Sierra de Andújar, Jaén, both in south-western Spain. A third group was discovered in Castilla – La Mancha in Central Spain in 2007 but this population’s status and location remains unknown
  • Threats – lack of prey (wild rabbit), development of dams and roads fragmenting habitat, land conversion to golf courses and intensive agriculture, road kill, hunting, accidental deaths in traps for other animals
  • Adults are about the size of a medium-sized dog
  • Solitary, with territories ranging from 4 -30 km2 depending on factors such as sex and food availability
  • A litter contains 2-3 cubs, which are dependent until 7-8 months of age and stay in the mother’s territory until between 1 and 2 years old
  • Would be the first cat species to become extinct since Smilodon (the saber-toothed tiger) 10,000 years ago

To help the lynx, you can buy wine with cork stoppers. The lynx needs a combination of cork oak woodlands and open scrubland to survive. Cork harvesting is both traditional and sustainable – the outer layer of bark is peeled off, leaving the tree standing and able to grow it back for the next harvest. So by buying real corks, you are helping to maintain cork oak trees and indirectly, the conditions for the Iberian lynx.

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Did you know?

This lynx was distributed over the entire Iberian Peninsula as recently as the mid-nineteenth century. It is now restricted to very small areas, with breeding only confirmed in two areas of Andalucía, southern Spain.

The Iberian lynx prefers heterogeneous environments of open grassland mixed with dense shrubs such as strawberry tree, mastic, and juniper, and trees such as holm oak and cork oak. It is now largely restricted to mountainous areas, with only a few groups found in lowland forest or dense maquis shrubland.

Flagship Species

The Iberian lynx is a classic ‘flagship species’. Not only is it highly charismatic but by protecting its habitat, we are saving all the other species that rely on that land too, from rabbits to black vultures. Flagship species are an invaluable way to garner support for conservation – and so are bound to play a crucial role during the International Year of Biodiversity and beyond.

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