Sunday, January 20, 2013

Iberian Lynx

Lynx pardinus
It is estimated that there are less than 150 adult Iberian Lynxes left in the wild, making it one of the most endangered cats on the planet. In fact, were they to go extinct, they would be the very first cat to do so since prehistoric times.

Iberian Lynxes are found only in a few isolated pockets in southern Spain. They were once found in Portugal too but it is unknown whether any still remain there. There only two main breeding grounds, one with a few dozen, and the other with perhaps a hundred... though the two groups are divided by enough distance that they do not intermingle. This of course makes the species even more vulnerable.

As with most endangered species, habitat loss has played a major role in the decline of the Iberian Lynx. However, there is another cause that is even more devastating. The primary prey of this cat is the European Rabbit. 80-100% of their diet is made up of these lagomorphs. Because rabbit populations are in decline (due to hunting and a disease called Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease) the Lynx have little to eat. Some attempt to hunt other prey, but that puts them in competition with other carnivores. The result is that the Lynx populations declines right along with that of the rabbit.

There is some hope though. The two main areas where the Lynx live are now being carefully managed, and there are efforts being made to revitalize the rabbit populations there. Furthermore, captive breeding is making some strides, and these new kittens are being used to boost the wild populations. There is hope that additional populations will be reintroduced to areas that the cats once lived it.

IUCN Status : Critically Endangered
Location : Spain and Portugal
Size : Length around 40in (1m), Weight around 30lbs (13.6kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Felidae -- Genus : Lynx -- Species : L. pardinus

1 comment:

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