Two Iberian lynxes were released into the wild in the Algarve for the first time on Thursday afternoon.
‘Sismo’ and ‘Senegal’ (male and female) were born at the El Acebuche reproduction centre in Andalusia, Spain, and were set free in the eastern Algarve municipality of Alcoutim, the Portuguese Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF) announced.
This brings the Iberian lynx number living in the wild in the Algarve to 22, the institute added.
The reintroduction of this endangered species into the wild started seven years ago. Around 200 are now living in the wild, spread out across the Vale do Guadiana, Alentejo and Algarve regions.
Nine Iberian lynxes were born in the Algarve in 2021, and the ICNF hopes numbers will increase.
The institute attributes this success to several factors, namely the “collaboration of landowners and managers of estates and hunting areas, the sustainable management of territory, the abundance of wild rabbits, the favourable attitude from locals regarding the presence of the animal and the connectivity of the lynx population in Vale do Guadiana with other populations in Spain,” which ICNF describes as “fundamental to increasing genetic variability.”
Lynxes started being released into the wild in Portugal in 2014. The Vale do Guadiana region – which encompasses the boroughs of Mértola, Serpa and other areas – was selected as part of the LIFE Iberlince project and has seen the lynx population expand naturally to other boroughs such as Alcoutim, Castro Verde and Beja.
ICNF adds that the reintroduction of the species is a “medium to long term programme, which aims to establish a viable population and maintain genetic flux with other lynx populations,” providing the species with “favourable” conditions to reproduce.