Endangered lynx killed after being run over

in Regional · 29-10-2015 12:21:00 · 0 Comments
Endangered lynx killed after being run over

An Iberian lynx, born and released into the wild under a breeding programme to boost the population of the once critically-endangered species indigenous to Spain and Portugal, has been killed after being run over in Santarém.

Born in Aznalcar, Spain, in 2011, Hongo’s last known movements were detected on 8 May 2013 in a hunting zone in Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal.
He was found dead last Thursday, 22 October, on the A23 road near Vila Nova da Barquinha, Santarém, after being run over.
A statement from the Portuguese Institute for Forest and Nature Conservation (ICNF), which oversees the repopulation project in Portugal, explained that, at four years old, Hongo had travelled the long distance between southern Spain and the south-west Alentejo without having found a territory to settle in.
The Iberian Lynx wore a VHF collar which allowed his movements to be tracked, but operational problems hindered the monitoring of the Milfontes hunting zone by ICNF technicians and area managers.
According to the INCF, Hongo “was an important specimen for the conservation of the Iberian lynx as he proved the enormous capacity of the species to overcome barriers and use less favourable habitat and connection between lynx territories of Portugal and Spain.”
He also “symbolised the good reception that the species has among the population in general, and in particular the hunters in returning the species to Portugal and its historical presence in the area.”

Road accidents are, according to the ICNF, “the greatest cause of death for the Iberian Lynx” and continuing work towards preventing accidents and raising awareness about responsible driving is necessary, the institute says.
A campaign is to be carried out in collaboration with national road company Infrastructures de Portugal, to map out danger areas based on animal collisions, with a view to preventing accidents, particularly in areas where the lynx has been re-introduced.
Signage has already been placed in such areas specifically for the purpose.
In June this year the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) removed the Iberian lynx from its ‘red list’ of species in critical danger of extinction.
But sources from the ‘Life + Iberlince’ (2011/2016) programme, which involves a total of 19 institutions working towards the recovery of the Iberian Lynx species, stressed it was essential to promote a national plan that prevents the running over of Iberian lynx, which is now listed as the leading cause of death of the animals.
A report in the Guardian also highlighted how conservation efforts to save the iconic spotted cat “are being undermined as record numbers are getting killed in car collisions.”
Last year a record 22 lynxes died after being hit by cars, up from just two in 2008, the report stated, stressing that, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, cars are “the greatest threat for the future of the lynx.”
Meanwhile the reintroduction programme in Portugal has been branded “a success” by the ICNF, with 11 cats now being located in Portugal.
“The investment made over the last decade to improvement habitat not only ensured the settling of the animals that were released into the wild but also the receiving of specimens released in Spain”, the Institute said.
“The challenge now is to consolidate the ex-situ [conservation] and extend its reach to ensure in-situ success with the establishment of breeding females in the country and the release of more cats”, the ICNF explained, adding: “The minimisation of the causes of death and improved social acceptance rates are also on the agenda.”


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