The first of 24 lynx bred in captivity in Spain are to be delivered to Portugal on or around November 15.
They will be taken to the Iberian lynx reproduction centre at Herdade das Santinhas in the Silves council from rearing centres at El Acebuche near Doñana and Olivilla, Sierra de Morena, in Spain.
The decision was announced recently by Javier Madrid, Director-General of the Andalucian Ministry of the Environment.
The Director-General has already visited the Silves centre, which was inaugurated in May, accompanied by experts from Andalucia who have been working on Iberian lynx conservation and breeding programmes.
The Andalucian regional authority plans to transfer 20 lynx to Portugal in six or seven batches before the end of the year.
The wild Iberian cat has been in danger of extinction for a number of years as its habitat falls victim to agricultural and road development and the population of its natural foodstuff, wild rabbits, has plummeted because of disease.
The goal is that by next spring, the first lynxes bred in captivity from breeding pairs can be reared and eventually released into the wild.
The lynxes are being offered to Portugal as part of a protocol signed on July 28 between the Portuguese and Spanish ministers
For the environment
Among adult examples of the species will be kittens reared in 2009 which were genetically selected to improve the species’ chance of survival in the wild.
This genetic variety is essential if the animals are not to succumb to feline leukaemia as had already happened in rearing centres in Spain.
The Silves Iberian Lynx Centre, which cost around four million euros, was part-financed by the water company Águas do Algarve as a compensatory measure for the construction of the Odelouca dam.
Spain currently has an estimated 77 Iberian lynx at its various reproduction centres. It is not known exactly how many lynx are living in the wild in Iberia but estimates put numbers at between 200 and 250, mostly in Andalucia.