According to a press release from the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF), the Iberian lynx release season in the country began on 9 February, with the release of two of seven animals, in a programme that “will continue until the end of the month, in the reintroduction area of Vale do Guadiana”.

According to the ICNF, the animals to be released “were born in 2020, in three of the four breeding centres in the Iberian Peninsula”.

Two male lynx come from El Acebuche and three females from La Olivilla, in Andalusia, Spain, the note added, stating that two other male lynx were born at the ICNF National Lynx Breeding Centre, located in Silves, Algarve.

“The release areas defined for 2021 were selected based on technical criteria for the existence of adequate habitat and availability of food for the lynx and counted on the valuable collaborations of the Infantry Regiment No. 1 of Beja and the Municipality of Mértola, translated into the permission to carry out part of the releases, on land under its jurisdiction”, points out the ICNF.

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The institute explains that 2020 was “particularly favourable for the lynx in Portugal, with the birth of 60 cubs in the natural environment and the establishment of 18 breeding females with stabilised territories”, making the Guadiana Valley one of the “most successful reintroduction areas at an Iberian level”.

“In fact, six years after the beginning of the reintroduction of the Iberian lynx in Portugal, this population shows a sustained growth, with more than 150 animals that are distributed over almost 500 square kilometres”, the note adds.
The reintroduction area in Portugal was selected in 2014, within the scope of the LIFE Iberlince project.

“The Guadiana Valley area comprises territories in the municipalities of Mértola, Serpa and adjacent areas, where the lynxes have naturally dispersed, located in the municipalities of Alcoutim, Castro Verde and Beja”, adds the press release.

According to the ICNF, “these areas are now being consolidated, expanded and interconnected within the scope of the new LIFE Lynxconnect project, led by the CAGPyDS of the Junta de Andalucía, started in September 2020”, and which, in Portugal, brings together as partners, in addition to the ICNF, the Baixo Alentejo Intermunicipal Community and the Infrastructures of Portugal.

ICNF said to Lusa that, “in 2017, as a result of the work carried out by Spain and Portugal, the conservation status of the Iberian lynx in the Iberian Peninsula went down one level, becoming 'Threatened'”.