Edition 1497
20 October 2018
Edition: 1497

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Portugal makes history with first release of Iberian Lynx

in Algarve · 18-12-2014 14:44:00 · 4 Comments

A new exhibition dedicated to the elusive Iberian lynx opened this week in Silves Castle to mark the first time that the species, which is the world’s most threatened feline, has been released into the wild in Portugal following the release of several in Spain.

Portugal makes history with first release of Iberian Lynx

The pair of Iberian lynxes were released on Tuesday (16 December) into the Guadiana Valley Natural Park near Mértola.
It is the first time that the species, the world’s most endangered feline, has been released into the wild in Portugal, following the release of several in Spain.
One of the two lynxes came from Silves in the Algarve, where there is a breeding centre, and the other from central Spain.
The species, which is native to the Iberian Peninsula, all but disappeared in the 1990s.
But patient work in recent years has meant that today Portugal is in a position to reintroduce two lynxes into a large fenced-off area in the Natural Park, to allow them to adapt to their freedom.
The ceremony to mark the event was presided over by the environment minister, Jorge Moreira da Silva.
In July this year, the National Pact for the Conservation of the Iberian Lynx was signed with some 20 land-owners, researchers and non-governmental organisations, aimed at ensuring that the cats can survive. Some organisations, however, such as environmental campaign group Quercus, argue that the conditions may not yet be fully in place.
This follows news in November that two thousand hectares of terrain had been secured for the first reintroduction of the critically-endangered Iberian Lynx into Portugal. The Portugal News later learned that more negotiations are taking place to at least double the amount of land.
In a statement sent to The Portugal News, the ICNF Nature and Forest Conservation Institute said more contracts are in the pipeline with a view to at least doubling the amount of land currently assigned for the recovery project.
“Other agreements of collaboration are also due to be signed to cover a total of at least five thousand hectares of potential land for the species to live on”, the institute explained.
It elaborated that “some of the cubs born at the CNRLI [breeding centre] in Silves [Algarve] have already been reintroduced successfully in Spain.
“Their reintroduction in the Guadiana Valley is being done with cubs from that same centre or from another Iberian centre as the programme works as a network with Spain and the best technical decisions, namely with regards to selecting the cubs for reintroduction and where they come from, are made jointly.”
The Iberian Lynx reintroduction programme, it was explained, similar to other animal conservation programmes the world over requires “a permanent monitoring of the animals released which includes marking them and following them with telemetry and photo-trapping”.
Efforts to bring the Iberian Lynx back from the brink of extinction are based on a National Conservation Pact undersigned by the municipalities of Penamacor, Moura, Beja and Silves, by hunting associations and other private and public entities.
An associated project, SOS Wild Rabbit, has also been approved by the State Secretary Miguel de Castro Neto.
“Financed by the Nature Conservation Fund to a tune of €180,000, the project aims to find ways to stabilise the populations of what is the lynx’s main prey.”
Among the main reasons behind the Iberian Lynx’s decline is a sharp drop in the population of its main food source (wild rabbit) as a result of disease, the loss of scrubland, its main habitat, to human development, including changes in land use and the construction of roads and dams.
The National Iberian Lynx Reproduction Centre (CNRLI) was inaugurated in 2009 in Silves, a project developed
by the regional water board Águas do Algarve with the support of the Committee for Iberian Lynx Breeding in Captivity (CCCLI).
According to information from the relevant entities, in Portugal the situation of the lynx is only recoverable with a reintroduction programme and the Conservation Programme was developed with the collaboration of national and international entities.
The Silves conservation centre is therefore seen as a “fundamental contributor” towards achieving the goals of various national and Luso-Spanish programmes, which has seen investment in the region of €3.6 million.
Also on Tuesday the ‘On the trail of the Iberian Lynx’ exhibition was inaugurated in Silves’ landmark castle and aims to give the public details and characteristics of the endangered feline.
The exhibition offers a perspective on the history of the animal on the Iberian Peninsula, covering its recent disappearance from Portugal and the ongoing efforts that have been made to reintroduce the animal to its natural habitat.
The exhibition also provides a privileged insight into the lynx’s behaviour, its habitat and the importance of the species in the balance of the ecosystem it inhabits.
It is part of a broader project and is the result of a partnership between Silves Council, regional water company Águas do Algarve, and the ICNF.

Comments

hi,i live in gibraltar but have a little place in the campo near Benalup 2 summers ago i traveled to work at 5.30 am seeing all types of wildlife an I'm absolutely posative i saw a lynx on two occasions trying to cross a b road almost in the same spot i won't say where on an open forum like this i didn't even tell locals to keep the animal anonymous!
by s,sutton from Other on 12-05-2016 03:15:00
very good for the earth.
by about creativity from Other on 20-12-2014 02:44:00
Perhaps you should have said " released in a secret location". Hunters will kill them for their pelts for sure. What a pity you told them where to go.
by valerie from Algarve on 19-12-2014 10:43:00
Is there any further news about Hongo, the young male lynx who was spotted near Vila Nova de Milfontes after leaving the reserve in Spain?
by Ray from Alentejo on 19-12-2014 10:02:00

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Edition 1497
20 October 2018
Edition: 1497

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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