Here at Spain Buddy we’re not exactly what you call fans of domestic cats. Wild cats on the other hand we find fascinating creatures.
You may or may not be aware that Spain is home to a seriously endangered feline species? If you weren’t and you read the title of this article you’ll have guessed we’re talking about the Iberian Lynx.
Once found in pockets throughout Spain and Portugal the Iberian Lynx is only mostly found in Andalucia with only small pockets in southern Portugal and other areas of Spain. According to the conservation organisation SOS Lynx, should the species disappear it would be the first feline species to become extinct since prehistoric times, the last being the Smilodon populator. The last reported figure in Andalucia, from 2013, for numbers in the wild totalled 309. To put that in perspective the population in 1960 was 3,000 and had declined to an all time low by 2005 of under 100.
The population has for decades been shrinking due to population drops through disease in its primary food source, rabbits. Also affecting the species has been development of its natural scrub land habitat. The good news though is that numbers are increasing through various conservation measures that include protecting their habitats and a captive breeding program.
Once on the critically endangered species list the increase in numbers has contributed to a re-assessment and an ‘upgrade’ to just ‘endangered’. The species is not out of the woods yet though. Scientists have warned that the species is not particularly adaptable to change and that global warming may force the remaining populace further north to cooler climes where their staple diet of rabbits is not so abundant. Other threats include vehicle strikes, poisoning, feral dogs, illegal poaching, and occasional outbreaks of feline leukaemia.