South Andalusia is a stronghold of the most threatened cat on Earth. The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). Here a wild female roaming its territory at night.
Thanks to Life and Iberlince conservation project, the species’ IUCN status has improved from Critically endangered to Endangered.
There were only about 90 lynx in the wild in 2000, a census carried out in 2015 found around 400 individuals.
“Fincas” are private lands in Andalusia, they are bordered by high fences. Iberian lynx often needs to jump over it in search of food.
Like every cat, the Iberian lynx is very agile and can easily jump over fences.
The Iberian lynx is the smallest species of lynx in the world (65-100 cm head to body, and 5 to 15 kg) comparing to the Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis), the bobcat (Lynx rufus) and the european lynx (Lynx lynx).
All four species have tufted ears and a spotted coat, but the Iberian lynx has the most prominent whiskers.
An Iberian lynx can live in a small territory of 3 to 6 km2, as long as there is enough food.
Rabbits are the main prey of the Iberian lynx, so the cat is extremely sensitive to variations in the lagomorph’s population.
The Iberian lynx is diurnal and nocturnal but will prefer roaming its territory at night during the hot months of the summer.
Lately, a new strain of haemoragic disease has reduced rabbit populations by over 50 per cent in some Iberian lynx territories.
If Iberian lynx hunt mostly rabbits, males can also put down young fallow deers, mouflon and even red deer fawn.
Typical lynx territory is a hilly landscape with thick bushes. The cat can easily hide being un-noticed.
If found on time, orphans will be raised in one of the 9 breeding center of Andalusia to be released in the wild.
Sub-adult Iberian lynx captured near Jaen.
The breeding center La Olivilla is the biggest breeding center involved in the programme.
Before being released, the young lynx needs a full veterinary check up.
In some area, rabbits are so rare, they need to be reintroduced by the Junta del Andalusia.
In order to better understand their behavior, scientist are following closely translocated lynx in their new territory.
Scientists are fitting lynx with collars to find out about their home range and their behavior.
Scientists are setting up camera trap for monitoring the local residents. The distinctive spots on the coat of the cat make easy to recognize individuals.
Road accidents are a major cause of mortality. According to the 2015 census, 51 animals have been killed this way during the last 3 years.
Beautiful wild female Iberian lynx being caught by a camera trap.