Archive for the ‘Mammals’ Category

Roman rabbit coin of Hispania

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Roman coin of Hispania with distinct rabbit, endemic to Iberia and exported elsewhere.The most widely–accepted theory says Phoenicians called Iberia i-shepan-im, the Land of Rabbits (or to be more precise the land of hyrax north African animals they confused) which became Hispania.

Eurasian lynx in Spain

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

A couple of interesting recent developments on the old presence of the Eurasian lynx in Spain and its hopeful reintroduction. It is thought the animal would have co-existed with the very edge of the Iberian lynxes range in northern Spain and the Pyrenees.

The possible presence well into the 20th century of the so-called gatillop in the Catalan Pyrenees as the animal is known in Catalan has long been discussed. There is now a Catalan government plan, as yet to be carried out, to release Eurasian lynxes in the Vall D’Aran in the Pyrenees. More here (2016)

Evidence now shows that the Eurasian lynx existed in Northern Spain in the Cantabrian mountains until at least 400 years ago. (2015 RTVE)


Iberian lynx distribution maps

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Maps showing changes in distribution of the Iberian lynx from 1900 to 2015, passing through the terrible low point of 2003. El País from here.

Iberian lynx news 2016

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

A short summary of some news about the Iberian lynx in 2016:

On the postive side:

176 Iberian lynx have been released into the wild since 2009.

40 more will be released in different areas of Andalucia, Extremadura and Portugal in 2017. Specifically these areas are:

  • Portugal: Vale do Guadiana, Mértola
  • Spain : Valle de Matachel, Badajoz; Montes de Toledo, Toledo; Sierra Morena Oriental, Ciudad Real; Guadalmellato, Córdoba and Guarrizas, Jaén. More here

19 Iberian lynx cubs were born in 2016 in the subpopulation of Castilla-La Mancha. More here

48 cubs were born in captivity in 2016. Here

More worryingly:

13 lynxes have been killed on roads so far in 2016

Iberian lynx has the lowest known genetic variety in any mammal. Here

Lynx controls predators

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016


Leaflet graphically illustrating among other things why the presence of Iberian lynx in an area, whose diet is more than 90% rabbit, means 4 times as many rabbits and partridges as it sytematically eliminates other predators such as fox and mongoose. Found here

Pyrenean bear cubs

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Image taken by camera trap of female bear with two cubs born this summer in the Vall d’Aran in the Catalan Pyrenees. The adult bear is called Hvala, a Slovenian bear released in the Pyrenees in 2008. Source: cronicaverde

Bat house in Ebro Delta

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

bat house

Huge bat house in the Ebro Delta, an ideal habitat for bats with plentiful food but for the absense of shelters. It was built in parts as a concerted atttempt to boost bat numbers in the Delta as a bioagent. The bat house is probably the largest in Europe, Photo by Mon. Source

Brown bear population in Spain 2013

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

 The population of brown bears in the Cantabrian mountains 2013 has reached more than 200, with 34 cubs raised in  2010. More here

Wolves expanding in Catalonia

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

The wolf appears to have firmly returned to Catalonia after an absence of more than 70 years. In the last few years a dozen  or so animals have been gradually arriving from France (see below) and settled in the Pyrenees, and have even reached as far south as the Vallés Oriental. The news  was released in the latest issue of the Spanish wildlife journal Quercus which reports the presence of up to 13 different individuals, some identified only once and others that appear and disappear depending on the  year.  However, so far all animals have been males, except for a female detected in 2008. This  is a common pattern, as young males tend to be the first to disperse, which explains in part why so far there is no evidence of breeding in Catalonia.The wolves have been detected in across an area of some 1,400 square kilometers in the Cadi mountains and other surrounding mountain ranges in Alt Urgell, Cerdanya, Alt Solsonès, and Berguedà. Unsurprisingly, the animal’s return has revived the traditional conflict with farmers and in the early years there was an average annual loss of about 80 head of livestock, although in some years more than 200 were lost. These attacks on livestock, for which farmers are compensated, have declined dramatically following various protective measures: just 3 sheep were lost in 2009 and 10 in 2010. ABC + Photo from here


How long before they reach Barcelona’s Collserola I wonder.

I wrote this last year

Tests have shown that this new influx of wolves in Catalonia is genetically Italian in origin, forming part of an expansion over a number generations out from the Apennines. The Apennine population began to expand in several directions from the early 1990’s. It moved north into the Italian and Swiss Alps; north-east into the French Alps and Lyon, and east towards the Pyrenees, reaching the Maritime Alps near Nice by 1996, Saboya by 1998. An individual was detected between Areja and French Cerdenya by August 1998 in the Madres Massif, just to the north of Canigó, and finally by 2004 into the Cadí range. The last Catalan wolf was shot in Horta de Sant Joan, in Tarragona in 1929, though the animal is thought to have disappeared from the Sierra de Cadí more than 100 years ago

March news

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I’ve been woefully neglecting this section of iberianature recently. Here are a couple of recent wildlife stories in the English press.

The Missing Lynx (The Guardian) Good article. “Ten years ago, there were barely 100 Iberian lynx left. But an innovative Spanish conservation programme is rescuing them from the edge of extinction”

And this story about ancient giant bunnies from Menorca reported in The Scientist

The skeletal remains of a 26-pound rabbit was found on an island off the coast of Spain. Dubbed the Minorcan King of the Rabbits, this ancient rabbit lived approximately three to five million years ago and now adds evidence to a curious rule concerning the evolution of animals in islands. The so-called “island rule” states that big animals will get smaller and small animals (such as rabbits) will get bigger when the population is isolated on an island, perhaps due to the lack of mainland predators. In this case, the King is a whopping six-times larger than living European rabbits, but due to a rigid spine and short legs, it was also unable to hop.