Back From The Brink: Intensive Efforts Are Saving The Iberian Lynx

Lynx are a family of four medium sized feline predators occupying North America and Eurasia. Canada lynx, Eurasian lynx, bobcats and Iberian lynx make up the family. The cats all weigh in around 30 pounds except for the Eurasian lynx which can reach 80 pounds.

mudes luchsjungtier
Bobcats are an American lynx named for their short “bobbed” tails. They are common throughout the United States into southern Canada. Photo by DiePhotoPotato on

Until recently the Iberian lynx ( lynx pardinus)was on the verge of extinction, with fewer than 100 remaining in Spain and Portugal. Intensive efforts have begun and conservationists now believe between 400 and 500 are living in Spain and Portugal..

Landscape of rocks and forest in the Alto Tajo Natural Park. Molina Alto Tajo Geopark. Guadalajara. Castilla la Mancha. Spain. Europe. Rewilding Europe

To save the cats conservationists had to address a number of problems. Hunting and illegal poaching, traffic accidents, change in habitat and decline of prey animals. Prey animals and habitat protection have been key. Illegal hunting and poaching remain problems as do traffic accidents. Scientists turned to captive breeding centers for both predator and prey They also support programs to maintain habitat suitable to the cats and their prey.

Like all cats lynx are opportunistic predators, but their main staple is wild rabbit. Wild rabbit populations in Spain and Europe fell drastically due to a number of diseases and with them fell the lynx populations. Yes, lynx will eat mice, rats, birds and other creatures. But they need a rabbit a day to thrive and up to three if they have a litter.

close up of rabbit on field
Rabbits are prey of choice for all lynx. Eurasian lynx are big enough to tackle deer frequently and Canada lynx prefer snowshoe hare in the far North. Nby Pixabay on

Breeding centers for the lynx raise them under close supervision and release a few at a time. Currently the cats are collared for further study. Rabbits are either trapped in high population areas and released elsewhere or bred to be released in lynx friendly zones.

The end result appears to be a successful rewilding program. Rewilding Europe is one of the players in the efforts and is also working to reintroduce other species to Spain and Portugal.

Meanwhile, although Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) and bobcats (lynx rufus) are not under threat of extinction they do face challenges. Local bobcats in Southern California are threatened by the road network and the widespread use of rat poisons which leads to mange in the cats. Canada lynx are heavily dependent on snowshoe har and their populations rise and fall with those of the hare. Eurasian lynx are still common through much of Eurasia, but reintroduction programs are underway in Western Europe. Locally, the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar has a bobcat and a Canada lynx. The rescue and education center also has a serval, an African wildcat knowm for its ability to leap and capture birds.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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