Iberian lynx in Doñana

The BBC has an interesting article today on Doñana and the lynx: How the EU saves, and kills, the lynx

lynx andalucia

Photo from Lynx Recovery Programme

from which I have snatched:

“Dr Astrid Vargas, famous for her work to save the lynx in Spain, shows me the control centre where they are monitored.

A lynx

The lynx is like a domestic cat… with the hint of a tiger

To my disappointment, I am not allowed to see the animals in the flesh: there is the risk of them catching diseases and becoming unsettled if there’s a stream of visitors.

But it’s entrancing enough watching them on the monitors, as Astrid tries to find the cubs by panning cameras and switching between angles.

Two cubs are out for a morning walk but eventually join their brother in their den. They cuff each other, bite and play.

A three-year-old is about the size of a cocker spaniel, and they have wonderful faces, a little like a domestic cat, but then the hint of tiger flashes through. There is something both fey and ancient about their faces, it’s probably the tufted ears and pointed beard that does it.

They are at risk partly because disease has killed their main prey, rabbits. But environmentalists say what really threatens them is that the wetlands of this national park are drying out.

“Encroachment by humans has been brutal. If we do not protect the lynx’s habitat, there’s no point in having them in captivity – the purpose of this programme is to re-introduce them into the wild,” Astrid says.

“The reason the lynx is going extinct is because of our pressure. The Mediterranean maquis is shrinking fast, the natural vegetation is slowly but surely being changed.”