Iberian Lynx - Population & Distribution | WWF

Iberian Lynx - Population & Distribution

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

A slow recovery

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.
In 2002, an extensive survey showed that less than 100 Iberian Lynx were left in the world, surviving in two isolated breeding populations in Andalusia, southern Spain. After huge conservation efforts, the species has recovered from the brink of extinction and a new conservation project is recovering some of its lost territories in Spain and Portugal. But crucial challenges remain…

Current Population and Distribution

After decades of decline and habitat contraction, in 2015 the IUCN decided to downgrade the Iberian Lynx from “critically endangered” to “endangered”. Since 2002, the population size has steadily increased in the Andalusian subpopulations, although in 2013 and 2014 this recovery has suffered a halt due to the decline in prey populations. 
The current recruitment rate of the lynx is low, due to the scarcity of rabbits, which reduces the species reproductive potential. According to IUCN, future range expansion and population increase depend upon continued reintroductions.
The recovery since 2002 has been possible thanks to the joint efforts of the Spanish national and regional administrations, different NGOs (like WWF) and the European Union (via the Life projects). A new ambitious Life Project (Iberlince), in which WWF is taking part, is expanding the lynx range outside Andalusia. Around 50 individuals have been reintroduced since 2014 in the spanish regions of Ciudad Real, Toledo, Badajoz, and the Portuguese Guadiana valley.