The first example of the Iberian lynx conservation and breeding program “Esperanza” (Hope in English) has died of old age and ill health
She was discovered in march 2001 by Miguel Delibes in the Coto del Rey are of Doñana National park with three siblings. One was already dead and another in a critical condition. one young healthy cub was taken to the recovery centre at Zoobotánico Jerez. (presumably leaving the other surviving cub with with her mother?) she was named “Hope” because of the possibility of starting a breeding project to help recover the species and was hand reared at the zoo. When she was 5 months old she was moved to the breeding center of Acebuche close to the town of El Rocio in the Doñana National Park.
From there the success story continued, she was the second female to breed in captivity and had three litters with a total of 5 cubs. She surprised may due to her excellent maternal behavior despite having beed reared by humans with bottled milk and of course the absence of other individuals of her species. In 2009 she was affected by a chronic kidney disease at an advanced stage , later that year she was also diagnosed with a breast tumor that was removed in June 2010.
In November 2010 Hope was retired to Jerez Zoo (one of the breeding centres for the project) as she was no longer viable for the breeding program. For the first time in 2013 the non viable lynx were available for the public to view whilst the viable breeders remained in the off-limits breeding areas. Recently her health deteriorated as a result of old age (she just turned 13) and the last stages of renal failure. Esperanza was moved to a facility away from public viewing and given veterinary care but Yesterday (9th April 2014) and after reaching an advanced state of suffering the decision was made to euthanize her.
During the last 13 years, Hope has been one of the most news covered Iberian lynx and has added a lot to the social and educational awareness of the species. She was the first hand reared lynx and and fairly soon her first cub called “Cynara” will give birth to her own first litter.
Excellent update with the good (and bad) news from Aznalcollar and Doñana Nacional park area on the BBC radio 4 programme “Costing the Earth”. Although ending with a warning for the future as is almost always the case it is good to hear that the clean up from the chemical spill took a relatively short time and nature very quickly bounced back.
“When millions of litres of poisonous sludge poured out of a zinc mine in Andalucia in 1998 wildlife was devastated for miles around. As the tidal wave of filth headed for the marshlands of Donana National Park it became a disaster for Europe as well as Spain. The prime route for birds migrating between Africa and Northern Europe seemed certain to be poisoned for decades to come.
Sixteen years on from Spain’s worst environmental disaster Julian Rush returns to the region to discover how nature, with a little help, has reclaimed much of the devastated area. The birds have returned and flocks of British birdwatchers are enthusiastically following the Imperial Eagles, Griffon Vultures and millions of birds on their spring migration back to the UK. Laurence Rose of the RSPB shares his memories of the disaster and shows Julian the path of the pollution which has become a lush, green feeding ground for resting birds.
The idyll, however, may be short-lived. Illegal boreholes dug to water enormous strawberry farms that export their produce to Northern Europe are sucking the life out of the marshes. Tourism is impinging on the wilderness and there are even advanced plans to resume mining at the site of the accident. With Andalucia desperate for jobs and foreign currency the local government is anxious to boost the region’s industrial sector. Finding the best balance between industry and nature is vital for the future prosperity of this stunning area and for the exhausted birds that make their way across the Sahara to Britain’s shores.” (Source BBC)
January 27th, 2011
Good short summary of the threats facing Doñana by Wildlife Extra here: dredging of the river Guadalquivir, thousands of acres of illegal strawberry farms and paddy fields guzzling up the water and a proposed oil platform. And this is called the jewel of Spain’s national parks.
December 31st, 2010
The road deaths amomg Doñana’s lynxes will hopefully be reduced with the building of four of these ecoducts across the infamous A-494 road, responsible for a unacceptable number of deaths (three just in 2010). The ecoducts are to covered in earth and vegetation. El Mundo
Three Iberian lynx have been run over in the last month in Doñana, one of the worst figures for years. The latest animal was a male found dead on the road connecting Matalascañas with El Rocíos. He is thought to have been dispersing in search of new territories. Almost three lynxes a year (26 in total) have been killed since 2000…And three in a single month is an utter disater. Clearly the traffic signs aren’t sufficient. Crónica Verde
February 16th, 2010
Researchers from the University of Granada have compared the disaster caused by the infamous Aznalcóllar spillage in the Doñana National Park in Andalusia 11 years ago with the biggest species extinction known to date during the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago). The aim of comparing this seemingly disparate pair of disaster events is to look at how ecosystems recover following mass extinctions. Read more
Caribú, the lynx from the Sierra Morena which was released in Doñana in November 2008 with the aim of increasing the genetic variability there, has travelled almost 200km in three months. There is no evidence that it has mated yet as it is a sub-adult. El Mundo
It’s a worldwide phenomenon – whether bears investigating trash cans in the US, coyotes roaming New York, or boars exploring Barcelona – wildlife and human territories are increasingly overlapping. Near Vallvidrera railway station, on the outskirts of Barcelona, a mother boar availed herself of the contents of a litter bin in broad daylight. While two […]