Iberian Lynx - Population & Distribution

From left to right: Previous (undated) and current distribution of the Iberian lynx. rel=
From left to right: Previous (undated) and current distribution of the Iberian lynx.

Only scattered groups remain

There has been a fast and accelerating decline of this species over the past two hundred years. Whereas the Iberian lynx was once present in Spain, Portugal, and parts of southern France (early 19th century), by 1914 it was confined to the southern half of Spain and Portugal. In the 1960's, the population contracted to an area of 57,000 km² (about 10% of the surface of Spain). In Portugal, a 1989 survey estimated some 40 to 50 individuals across 2,400 km².
Current Population and Distribution
The current recruitment rate of the lynx is low, due to the scarcity of rabbits, which reduces the species reproductive potential. Population maintenance depends upon low levels of adult mortality and a relatively long lifespan. Lynx populations are therefore extremely vulnerable to additional stresses such as non-natural mortality.

At the beginning of last decade there were only two isolated breeding populations of Iberian lynx remaining in the world, located in southern Spain, and totaling about 100 adult animals, with only 25 breeding females.

IUCN's assessment in 2007 stated that the numbers were not sufficient for the survival of the species in the long term , putting this wild cat on the brink of extinction.

Thanks to the joint efforts of the Spanish national and regional administrations, different NGOs (like WWF) and the European Union (via the Life projects), the total population is currently increasing. The 2009 census shows around 230 individuals, including 7 adults that have been introduced in the area of Guadalmellato (Córdoba, Spain), which should open up a third Lynx territory.

To this figures we have to add the 81 animals that are part of the Captive Breeding Programme. But altough there are signs of recovery, the species future is still fragile.

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