Conservationists report with delight that the Iberian lynx is no longer considered “critically endangered”.
The animal has been removed from the ‘Red List’ of species at increasing risk and is now in the lesser “endangered” category, as compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The decision came after IUCN scientists found that the lynx population trebled (from 52 in 2002 to 156 in 2012) after “six decades of decline”.
And today the news is even better. There are believed to be over 300 living in the wild, thanks to ongoing conservation efforts.
“This is fantastic news and excellent proof that conservation action really works,” said Urs Breitenmoser from the IUCN.
The union added that the lynx revival is a result of many measures, including “the restoration of rabbit populations, monitoring for illegal traps, conservation breeding, reintroduction programmes and compensation schemes for landowners, which made their properties compatible with the habitat requirements of the Iberian Lynx”.
“We’re winning the war”
The news was also celebrated in Silves, where Portugal’s lynx reproduction centre has been in operation for the last 10 years.
“Today is a great day. The war isn’t won yet, but we’re winning it,” said administrator Rodrigo Serra.
“Good news like this that gives us hope and strength, and proves that our work pays off”.
According to Expresso newspaper, there are 150 lynx living in captivity at the Iberian Peninsula’s five reproduction centres – 30 of which are in Silves.
Since Portugal began its reintroduction programme in December 2014, 10 wild cats have been released into the countryside around Mértola.
However, conservationists are aware that there is still a long road ahead.
“The job is far from finished and we must continue our efforts to secure future range expansion and population growth of the species,” the IUCN warns.