By: ELOISE WALTON
PORTUGAL’S FIRST Iberian Lynx reproduction centre in Silves is one of the largest environmental policy investments in the country, according to Environment Minister, Francisco Nunes Correia, who placed a symbolic document inside the foundation stone on Friday, June 6.
“It’s one of the largest and most important investments in recent years,” said Francisco Correia at the site at Herdade das Santinhas in Silves.
Other local political figures were also present during the foundation stone ceremony, including Silves Câmara President, Isabel Soares, and the civil governor of Faro, Isilda Gomes.
For Francisco Correia, this project has “a special personal significance, because it contributes to avoid the extinction of the most endangered feline species in the world”.
Currently only around 250 lynx remain in Iberia, divided mainly between two breeding populations in Spain.
The centre is part of a series of environmental obligations that Portugal agreed to carry out to minimise the impact from the construction of the Odelouca dam. Both the construction of the dam and the measures to minimise its impact are being carried out by the water company Águas do Algarve.
Teresa Fernandes, a spokesman for Águas do Algarve, told The Resident: “Although it had been announced that the construction of the centre would start in January, there have been some delays, but we still expect that it will be finished by the deadline in December. This means that the first animals should arrive in January 2009.”
When completed, the new reproduction centre, the first of its kind in Portugal, will be able to house 16 Iberian Lynxes, donated by the reproduction centre at Doñana Park, Andalucía in Spain.
“Doñana Park has already notified us that they have six young lynx available,” said Teresa Fernandes.
A sophisticated CCTV system will be installed in the new reproduction centre, which will include 73 movable and fixed cameras and an office to coordinate the cameras and footage.
This system will allow scientists and researchers to observe the natural habits of the species with the minimum amount of human contact. The park will be 44,000 square metres and include a building for quarantine and a support centre.
There will also be basic infrastructures including water and sewerage mains and treatment facilities ,and a solar energy production centre used to heat water.
Now that the construction of the centre has started, Águas do Algarve will start the recruitment process for the team who will work at the centre.
“We will need a large team of people, including someone who currently works with lynxes at the park in Andalucía,” said Teresa Fernandes.
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