|"The Iberian lynx is prepared to reconquer its territories”
The Iberian lynx is the most threatened feline in the planet. Its most striking characteristics are: paintbrushes, beards and short tails with an apical black footrope. Its medium size and its mottled fur with clear-dark tones provides it the ability of camouflage in its habitat (Mediterranean forest), when hunting its main prey, the rabbit. The territory of an adult lynx may be various between 300ha and 2000ha, depending on the rabbits availability. One rabbit a day is enough, but wild-cats, foes and European polecat will compete with the Lynx for prey and territory.
In the early years of the 19h century, the Iberian lynx used to occupy territories in all the Iberian Peninsula, but during the last decades of the 20th century its distribution area has been drastically decreased to 2 nucleus of Andalucía: Doñana and Sierra Morena. Being its survival very threatened, it is considered in critically endangered, because of these main reasons: the decline of their main prey (caused by diseases such as myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease of rabbits); transformation, fragmentation and destruction of their habitat (traditional forms of agriculture and livestock abandonment, intensive agriculture, monoculture forestation, cattle excessive header, construction of infrastructure such as highways); death caused by human beings (running over, poaching); low genetic resistance (isolation between populations, and therefore genetic impoverishment and vulnerability to diseases).
LIFE IBELINCE project goal is to begin the recuperation of the historical distribution of the Iberian Lynx in Portugal and Spain, achieving stable and auto-sustainable populations, which will allow this species future. The actions of the project intend to: indentify areas of reintroduction in Portugal and Spain, consolidate the current populations, create wildlife corridors that allow them to cross territories and search for food, decrease the running over and poaching mortality, achieve the social participation of owners, agents and hunter’s societies and also of the introduction areas communities. The support of local communities is critical to project success!
Protect the Lynx is not only save from extinction one species to our descendants, but also save an ecosystem - the Mediterranean forest - and generate positive economic impacts for local businesses, with the creation of new jobs, with increased surveillance territory and tourism itself. Recognizing the potential international level in areas with Lynx for a nature tourism, will bring visitors to the well maintained natural systems, which take advantage of all landscape values, natural and cultural territory, as is the Noudar Nature Park case.
In 2013 there were 300 Iberian Lynxs and in 2014 a couple of lynx was set free in Mértola. With the achievement of these goals, the intention is to reach a population of 450 in the Iberian Peninsula in 2016 in at least 6 nucleus. This new situation will alert its threat category of "Critically Endangered" to "Endangered".