Archive for August, 2008

Bear caught in snare

Friday, August 22nd, 2008


The young bear with the snare embedded around its body

A team of specialists was mustered on Wednesday to track a bear that had been caught in a snare trap in the Páramo del Síl, Bierzo area of León. The bear had managed to detach the wire snare from a tree where it had been illegally laid but escaped with it still around its middle. The regional governments of Castilla and León, Asturias and Cantabria are collaborating with experts from the Fundación Oso Pardo, the Cabárceno wildlife park and the University of León to try to anaesthetise the injured animal and treat its abdominal wounds although their efforts are being hampered by problems in getting close enough to succesfully dart the bear. The dark colouring of its fur leads the experts to believe the bear to be a male, and definitely young. It has been observed feeding but the team are concerned that the wounds could become infected. The digiscoped image of the bear shows how the snare is embedded around its abdomen, in the area of its kidneys, and highlights the thin state of the animal, who has been suffering now for a week since it was first spotted. The fine for causing the death of a bear ranges from €200,000 – €2,000,000.

News from La Crónica

More on IberiaNature forum

Galician wolf predation prevention

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Iberian wolf, Canis lupus signatus, by Carlos Sanz

Interesting news from Galicia. An environmental collective, Fegama, are calling for a more positive and effective management of the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus) in their region by encouraging man’s coexistence with the species rather than continuing with the age-old battle against it. They suggest that instead of the present, negative method of paying farmers compensation for damages to livestock caused by wolves (often a long, drawn-out affair), that a system of subsidising farmers in areas shared by the wolves would be more beneficial to both. Subsidies would be used to pay for preventative measures such as livestock guardian dogs and fencing to protect flocks from the Galician wolf population of some 70 family packs. They are going to start a campaign of education to dispel the fear caused by myths surrounding the animal and to promote awareness of the important role that wolves play in the region’s biodiversity by keeping down numbers of their natural prey, for example Wild boar and Roe deer, two species that are potentially destructive. As always, prevention is better than cure.

News from La Voz de Galicia

Read about Iberian wolf conservation management on IberiaNature forum

Connecting Cantabrian brown bears

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

The Fundación Oso Pardo has nearly finished a study to find a communication corridor for the two, at present, separated bear populations. The study has identified problem areas and will propose at least four possible crossing points. It won’t be easy however as the zone to be used, through the Huerna Valley and over the Pajares mountain pass, is criss-crossed by roads and railways, including a dual carriageway and high-speed train linking Asturias with the Spanish central plains, which will have to be bridged. Also in the way are the odd ski resort or two. Deforestation is proving to be another stumbling block in the bears’ passage so they will also be recommending the replanting of trees to provide cover for the animals during their crossing. The study will be handed to the regional governments of Asturias and Castilla and León later this year.

Tunnel under construction for the AVE high-speed train, Puerto de Pajares

 News from

Photo from Mundo de Gea

More on Spain’s bears on the forum

More lynx cub photos

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

The Ex-situ Conservation Programme for the Iberian lynx has released a new set of ridiculously cute pictures of Iberian lynxes. this time from the lynx born in the captive breeding programme in 2008. In the picture: Endrino, Eón and Adelfa. Lots more images here.

Spanish fighting weasels

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

New iberianatureforum member Big Vern has posted this remarkable photo of two weasels (Sp. comadreja: Lat. Mustela nivalis) fighting at midday somewhere in Alicante. We are probably talking about two males. Note the white feet, characteristic of the southern Spanish variety, and the severed foot on one of them. Read the thread and more photos on this here. Thanks to Vern for permission to use the photo.

New iberianature organisation

Friday, August 8th, 2008

At the behest of several people, I’ve begun the long slog of re-organising all the old html and new wordpress material into a series of channels (mammals, birds, climate, etc). I’m also cross referencing heavily the iberianatureforum. So far only the “channel” on mammals is more or less finished. Note the pages on bears, lynx and wolves are channels in their own right with specific news feeds

Eventually these channels will probably become the main entrance into iberianature along with news feeds.

Collserola hike

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Lucy has written another great post, this time on a walk we did in Collserola. Boars, botany, hedgehogs, spiders and these remarkable nightjars:

“Churring filled the twilight. Then close at hand came a soft quick call, and we saw the silhouettes of a pair of nightjars. Their long wings rose and fell as they encircled us. The reason was a fledgling on the path a few metres ahead, its eye gleaming in the torch light. The parents circled us even faster, like in a playground game, clapping their wings. As we approached, the bird on the path silently flew off.” Read

PS Thanks to Mónica for photo of boar.

Iberian lynx in Central Spain – new relict populations?

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

A study published by researchers from CSIC this month in Animal Conservation (Looking for the Iberian lynx in central Spain: a needle in a haystack?) examines the possible relict populations of Iberian lynx outside the two known populations of lynx in the Sierra Morena and Doñana. To determine the current distribution of Iberian lynx outside the two recognized populations, the team surveyed five different areas between 2004 and 2007 where the species is considered extinct and collected 581 faeces for the genetic identification of the species. They identified 18 samples as belonging to Iberian lynx in four out of the five areas studied (including the area , providing clear evidence for the presence of lynx in central Spain. In some areas the species was detected repeatedly at different localities and on different dates, indicating a regular occurrence of an unknown number of individuals. Crucially, five new haplotypes have been found which appear to confirm these are genetically distinct animals from new populations and not dispersed animals.

These areas were studied. Lynx scats were found in the first four

  • Montes de Toledo
  • Sierra del Relumbrar
  • Western Sierra Morena
  • Río Guadalmez (Ciudad Real), where lynxes were recorded last year and where it appears there is a population of 12-18 individuals. See Lynx in Castilla-La Mancha (from Lynx brief)
  • Sierra de Gata. No signs found despite numerous attempts.

As biologist Fernando Alda points out the data proves that they are at least “out there” and that even though they are in very small number they could provide valuable genetic variability to the two main populations of Doñana and Andújar. He also believes they should also be considered as areas for reintroduction.

I haven’t seen the full article on which this story is based though I am sure that more details will come out. My doubt was, as with the River Guadalmez lynxes, whether we are talking about relict populations or a individuals which have dispersed from the Sierra Morena stronghold of Andújar-Cardoña. But the five new haplotypes appear to confirm these are genetically distinct animals which would provide a valuable increase in genetic variability for the lynx.

See also El Público

  • Photo above from ex situ Iberian lynx conservation programme. Here