World's most endangered cat grows to over 400 individuals
|Iberian lynx [Credit: Alfonso Moreno/ WWF-Spain]|
"WWF welcomes the heartening results of the 2015 Iberian Lynx census," said Luis Suarez, head of WWF-Spain's species programme. "This is a historic landmark that comes with the heavy responsibility of strengthening our commitment and conservation actions to protect this most endangered species."
Despite the rebound in population, the Iberian lynx is still threatened by losses in the population of rabbits, their main prey. The research project indicates that rabbit populations have fallen more than 50 per cent in areas critical to the lynx due to a new strain of viral haemorrhagic disease.
|Iberian lynx cubs [Credit: IberianLynx exsitu conservation programme]|
The survey also shows high lynx mortality caused by road accidents with a total of 51 lynx killed on the roads over the past three years. Without serious efforts to tackle the threat of vehicular traffic and the falling rabbit population, gains in the numbers of Iberian lynx could reverse.
The research also shows that the Iberian lynx is expanding beyond the borders of Andalusia, with the growth in Spain's Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura regions, as well as in Portugal. In 2015, the first birth of the species in the wild outside Andalusia was confirmed in Extremadura. While it is too early to declare new population areas, the mortality rates in reintroduction areas are less than the traditional rate of 50 per cent.
|Iberian lynx [Credit: IberianLynx exsitu conservation programme]|
Iberian lynx reintroduction efforts are part of Life + Iberlince, an EU backed project that involves WWF. The government of Andalusia conducted the survey as project coordinator for the Life + Iberlince project.
Source: WWF [April 05, 2016]