Archive for October, 2009

The Pyrenees need more bears

Friday, October 30th, 2009

A new French study has shown that at least 13 bears should be released in the Pyrenees in the near future if the species has any chance of becoming viable. La Mañana

On another story, Camille, one of only two bears in Navarra has killed four sheep in Roncal, as he fattens up for hibernation. Here

Lynx back in Portugal

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

As reported previously by iberianature, The first Iberian lynx has returned to Portugal after twenty years as part of the captive breeding programme. Watch video and report in Portuguese here with interview (in Spanish) with iberianatureforummer Iñigo Sanchez of Jerez Zoo, from where the female lynx, Azahar, was taken.

Once upon a time in Daimiel

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

As the Tablas de Daimiel struggle desperately to survive the underground peat fires and dessication, and with just 1% remaining of this once world-class wetland, I thought it was worth remembering how they were seen one hundred years ago by Chapman and Buck in their classic hunting travelogue Unexplored Spain.

Isolated thus, a mere speck of water in the midst of the arid table-lands of central Spain, yet these lagoons of Daimiel constitute not only one of the chief wildfowl resorts of Spain, but possibly of all Europe. Upon these waters there occur from time to time every species of aquatic game that is known in this Peninsula, while in autumn the duck-tribe in countless hosts congregate in nearly all their European varieties. Read Complete text of Chapman and Buck –  Unexplored Spain 1910

Listen also to Érase un vez – a soundscape of Daimiel. Photo by Greenpeace.

Lynx to return to Portugal after 20 years

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Twenty years after becoming extinct in Portugal, the Iberian lynx is to return to the country next week as part of the reintroduction programme. A female will be transferred to the new breeding centre in the village of Silves in Portugal. A total of 16 animals are to moved to the centre in the coming weeks. These animals will be used for captive breeding rather than for releases.

The first releases in the wild in Spain are now set for 2010 when 8-10 lynxes are to be released in Guadalmellato (Córdoba) and Guarrizas (Jaén). From 2011, between 20 and 40 individuals will be released a year. Público

Photo above from ex situ Iberian lynx conservation programme. Here

Spanish wolves prefer wild roe deer to domestic animals

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

A Spanish researcher has shown that wolves in the Macizo Central Orensano, Galicia prefer roe deer, deer and wild boar, rather than sheep, goats, cows and horses. The researcher, who identified the food type of wolves through their faeces, found “in 87.1% of cases the carcasses of wild hoofed animals appeared, while domestic animals were only found in 11.3%. Lower amounts of remains of carnivorous animals, such as badgers, dogs, cats and rabbits were also found”.

The study, recently published in Wildlife Biology, shows that roe deer are the main prey, and were eaten all seasons of the year though particularly during the summer (52%) and spring (26.2%). 62.8% of prey were roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), 12.6% deer (Cervus elaphus) and 10% wild boar (Sus scrofa). The consumption of domestic sheep and goats only represented 7.7% and 2.9%, respectively.

The fact that livestock remains are present in excrement samples of wolves is explained by their scavenging habits in the area. No attacks on livestock were reported during the study. One of the most important points in the study that the consumption of wild and domestic animals does not depend on their availability. Wolves preferred roe deer, deer and wild boar ahead of livestock, “in spite of the fact that both food types can be found in large quantities”, Barja adds.

“In areas with a low density and diversity of wild hoofed animals where wolves feed on domestic animals, an increase in the number of wild prey, livestock vigilance and limited access to carcasses could force wolves to specialise in the consumption of wild prey and transmit this behaviour to their offspring. Without doubt, this would help to minimise conflict between humans and wolves, and would support the conservation of canidae”, the researcher concludes.

Wildife Biology from Eureka Alert

Photo by Wil Luiif who organises trips to watch wolves in Spain. More here at Aragonnatuur

Timid French support for bears?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

France has promised to “replace” any bears killed by hunters in the Pyrenees as part of its commitment to the animal, but does not seem likely to release any additional bears. Whether this means that the four bears killed in the last decade are to be replaced is still unclear. Fapas

With only 20 odd animals in the range, freezing the reintroduction programme in this way may very well lead to its extinction.

Pyrenees bear hunt

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

I came across this rather harrowing photo in a book review of Historie de l’ours dans les Pyrénées in El Pireneo Digital. It was taken in 1928 after a hunt in Urdós, Valle de Aspe across the border in France. In 1935, some 200 bears still survived in the Pyrenees and Pre-Pyrenees. The last bear steak was offered in restaurant in French Pyrenees in 1960. A ban on hunting came in Spain in 1967  and in France several years later. Today, with just 20 odd animals in the entire Pyrenees – most of which were brought from the Balkans, further reintroduction is the only way of re-creating a viable population of bears in the range.

The Torcal de Antequera

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

File:El Torcal 01.jpg

Here is the first in iberianature’s new series of the best landscapes in Spain: El Torcal de Antequera in Malaga is one of the most impressive karst landscapes in Europe. Photo by Jakub Botwicz from Wikipedia.

Spanish wolf photo wins top award

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Spanish photographer Jose Luis Rodriguez has won the prestigious 2009 Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for his picture of an Iberian wolf leaping a fence as it pursues its prey. Rodriguez says that he had planned for years, and even sketched out on a piece of paper. He used a custom-built infrared trap to snap the wolf as it leapt into the air. He told the BBC, “I wanted to capture a photo in which you would see a wolf in an act of hunting – or predation – but without blood,” He went onto say that he hoped his picture, “showing the wolf’s great agility and strength”, will become an image that can be used to show just how beautiful the Iberian wolf is and how the Spanish can be proud to have such an emblematic animal. More from the BBC

Future of Pyrennean bears in doubt

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Without further reintroductions, the low number of bears in the Pyrenees (15-20 odd) make the conservation of the species inviable. For the time being, the French government has no plans to continue its reintroduction plans. Public support for bears in Catalonia is as high as 80%, but strong local opposition particularly in the Vall de Aran prevents any reintroduction programme from this side of the mountain range.

Fapas from La Mañana de Llerida