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The Iberian lynx has been brought back from the brink of extinction

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Here’s some good news for a change. :)

The Iberian lynx population has made a remarkable recovery. Francisco Javier Salcedo Ortiz, Coordinator of the LIFE Lynx-Connect project, has described it as “the greatest recovery of a cat species ever achieved through conservation”.

Just over 20 years ago, there were only an estimated 92 of them left, which made it one of the rarest cats in the world. The reasons for why the Iberian lynx came close to extinction are many:

“During Spain’s Franco era, the dictator urged people to kill the lynx, claiming that they were vermin. Further impacting numbers have been general habitat destruction as well as lynx being hit by vehicles when they try to cross roads. The most important reason for their decline, though, is because rabbits, which make up 90 per cent of a lynx diet, are in trouble themselves with diseases such as myxomatoses, leading to a massive decline in European rabbit populations, which in turn meant that lynx were starving to death.”

Today, poaching remains a very real threat to the Iberian lynx population. And so does road kill where high-traffic roads cut through the lynx’s habitat. But the Iberian lynx population are now also facing a growing threat from climate change, which is altering and destroying their natural habitats.

Iberian lynx map.jpg

But now, thanks to a successful and dedicated conservation project that has included captive breeding programmes and re-introduction programmes, the Iberian lynx population has now risen to an estimated 2021. It might not seem like much, but this population increase has led to the IUCN changing the cat status on the IUCN Red List from Endangered to Vulnerable. And there are now future plans to reintroduce the Iberian lynx to new areas in central and northern Spain (see map above).

“The significant recovery of the Iberian lynx demonstrates that even the most threatened species can be brought back from the brink of extinction through committed, science-based conservation action and provides hope for those working to protect wildlife across the globe,” Sarah Durant, Professor at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, said in a response.

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Learn more and watch some amazing videos of this beautiful wild cat:

Reintroducing Europe's Wildest Cat, BBC Earth

Urban development has pushed the Iberian lynx to the edge of survival. Recent rewildling projects could help the species to thrive once more.

One Of The Most Elusive Animals On The Planet: The Iberian Lynx, Discovery Wildest Europe

The Iberian Lynx is a wild cat species is found nowhere else but the Iberian peninsula. Watch to find out more about the elusive, endangered solitary creature.

The Elusive Iberian Lynx, BBC Earth

The Iberian Lynx is one of the world's most elusive cats and at the turn of the century, there were only one hundred individuals.

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