Montes de Toledo

Outlook optimistic for lynx

December 1st, 2008

Photo from La Olivilla centre in Jaén (EFE). The latest news on the Iberian lynx bodes well for the future of the species. Speaking at the III Seminario de Conservación del Lince Ibérico in November. Urs Breitenmoser, feline expert with the World Conservation Union stated “We have gone from a critical reality of extinction to a situation of just vulnerability. El Pais.

This year a total of 82 Iberian lynx were born, including 21 in captivity, and including cubs there now may be as many as 200 lynxes in Spain, up from 100 in 2002. In addition, more than 50 lynxes are doing their bit in the various captive breeding centres. A record 13 cubs born in captivity have survived this year. The first releases of captive lynxes in the wild are set for autumn 2009 in Guadalmellato, Cordoba. El Mundo There is, however, still a very, very long way to go. It is worth remember that as late as the early 1960s there were still between 5,000 and 6,000 iberian lynxes in the Peninsula.

Meanwhile, the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha has confirmed the presence of lynxes the Montes de Toledo made up of at least 15 animals and 3 breeding territories. The photo below was taken by an automatic camera tracking these Castillian lynxes, which well provide vital genetic variation to the Doñana and Sierra Morena lynxes. El Mundo

Iberian lynx in Central Spain – new relict populations?

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