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WWF-Spain / Jesús Cobo

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Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). "Morena", the oldest female (13 years old) of the captive breeding program of the Iberian Lynx (Doñana National Park), Spain.

Having decreased steadily in population numbers over the last two centuries, the Iberian lynx may soon be the first cat species to become extinct for at least 2,000 years. The species is classified by the World Union for the Nature (IUCN) as the world's most endangered feline species. Habitat loss and degradation, as well as the disappearance of food resources (rabbits) are contributing to this declining trend. Today, there are no more than 38 breeding females in the wild.

The Iberian lynx is found only in isolated pockets of Spain and Portugal. It is thought that the species experienced an 80 per cent range loss between 1960 and 1990. The last studies carried out on its population in 1988 estimated fewer than 1,150 animals in Spain and around 50 in Portugal. Currently, it is estimated that the population in Spain totals no more than 600, many existing in tiny, fragmented populations.

Urgent action is needed. WWF is calling for the Spanish National Government and the Regional Government of Andalucia to implement the captive breeding programme as a matter of urgency, and work with others to ensure the protection and appropriate management of the habitat and prey conditions for the Iberian lynx.

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