Five endangered Iberian lynx released into the wild in Spain 

Five endangered Iberian lynx released into the wild in Spain
The female Iberian lynx Solera is released with other four lynxes in Arana mountain range, in Iznalloz, near Granada, Spain December 19, 2022, credit: Reuters/Jon Nazca

Five Iberian lynx were released into the wild in Spain as part of a breeding program aimed at conserving the endangered species.

Saturno and Sotillo, two male Iberian lynx bred in captivity, and Solera and Ilexa, two wild-born females, along with Ilexa’s kitten Terre were released in the Sierra Arana region of the Andalusian province of Granada.

“The two females and the kitten are wild animals. We have captured them to balance the sex. We had two males but needed two females. We are initiating this area as a reintroduction area,” said Javier Salcedo, the director of the Life LynxConnect project in Andalusia, which is responsible for the reintroduction of the Iberian lynx.

“This is the main goal of the project, starting a reintroduction area here. For us, this is a milestone, another step toward achieving the project’s goal, but we also have personal satisfaction. If you like this and you have the opportunity to contribute, it is obviously something to feel proud of,” Salcedo added.

The Iberian lynx, known for its distinctive long black ear fur, was on the brink of extinction in 2002 due to poaching, road accidents, and habitat loss from farming. At that time, only 94 specimens were registered in Spain and none in Portugal.

As a result of ongoing conservation efforts, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lowered the species’ threat level to ‘Endangered’ from ‘Critically Endangered’ in 2015.

The Iberian lynx population in Spain and Portugal increased above 1,000 at the end of 2020, with 522 of those lynx located in Andalusia, according to Guiseppe Aloisio, director of the regional forest and biodiversity department.

“This is Andalusia’s success because as a region it has been able to multiply by five the critical census we had 20 years ago,” Aloisio said.


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