Iberian lynx to be reintroduced in Portugal

By INÊS LOPES – [email protected]

Harmonious coexistence between the Iberian lynx, hunting and agricultural activities is needed, said the minister for the environment during a visit to the Iberian Lynx Reproduction Centre in Silves last Saturday to announce plans to reintroduce the endangered species into the wild.

Speaking during the presentation of the Action Plan for the Conservation of the Iberian Lynx, Assunção Cristas said she hoped plans to reintroduce several animals into their natural habitats in Portugal would be implemented in less than one year, with the measure serving also to attract people to depopulated areas.

The Iberian lynx reintroduction faces considerable threats on several fronts and so the minister, who is also responsible for Agriculture, the Sea and Spatial Planning, alerted for the need to ensure a harmonious coexistence between the Iberian lynx, hunting and agriculture, which are all areas requiring attention.

“The biggest challenge will be to find the right balance between the various uses given to the land earmarked for the reintroduction of the Iberian lynx,” she said adding that this land would see its economic value increase significantly.

The Action Plan for the Conservation of the Iberian Lynx in Portugal was approved in 2008, but it has taken four years to see it come to fruition.

In less than one year, some animals will be reintroduced into the wild in some regions which are already being prepared to receive Iberian lynx specimens, such as Moura in the Alentejo.

“In the next few years, if the Iberian lynx is sustainably sharing our land with other activities, we will have some very interesting areas for people to visit,” she said.

The project for the Iberian lynx, which is being developed in cooperation with Spain, includes the breeding of the species in captivity with a view to reintroducing the animals into their natural habitats and thus prevent their decline.

As the Algarve Resident reported in the March 29 edition, a total of seven cubs had been born that month to two Iberian lynx held in captivity at the Silves centre. Six-year-old Castañuela gave birth to a litter of four on March 6, while a day earlier first-time mother Biznaga gave birth to three cubs but abandoned two of them, currently being hand-reared by the teams at the centre.

Inaugurated in 2009, the Silves Iberian lynx centre, the first of its kind in the country, includes a quarantine area, a rehabilitation centre, a veterinary surgery, laboratory and 24 hour CCTV surveillance system.

To know more about the National Iberian Lynx Reproduction Centre in Silves, please visit http://linceiberico.icnb.pt (in Portuguese)