Rather fittingly in time with the announcement of our latest event in support of this animal and its habitat, this week we’re taking a look at the Iberian lynx.
Binomial name: Lynx pardinus
Current conservation status: Endangered.
Despite being far from where it should be, the Iberian lynx’s conservation status has actually improved. In 2008, due to intensive conservation actions the species’ status was improved from Critically Endangered.
Population trend: Increasing.
Whilst there are noted extreme fluctuations in population size and whilst these populations are labelled as being severely fragmented, in 2012 it was discovered that the overall population size had tripled within a decade.
Due to its very specific diet, the Iberian lynx’s habitat is somewhat restricted to the habitat of its prey. So wherever the rabbits are, that’s where the lynx are!
Threats: land development, hunting, disease.
- Housing developments and expansion of urban areas pose a huge threat to the lynx’s habitat, along with wood plantation and crops.
- Hunting and trapping were major sources of mortality to the Eurasian lynx during the 20th century.
- Human-assisted spread of disease which affects rabbit populations has a strong knock-on effect on lynx populations.
Role: Prey population control.
The Eurasian lynx are one of the largest carnivores in their ecosystem and as such have a large influence on population sizes and distribution of their prey. Deer are a major component of Eurasian lynx diet, meaning that healthy populations are maintained by regular hunting.
Support needed: Species and habitat management. Compliance and enforcement. Awareness and communications
- Habitat management mainly involves ensuring that rabbit populations are high enough to sustain lynx feeding habits
- Although not as much of a problem as in previous decades, monitoring for illegal trap laying is still a vital form of conservation
- Awareness around species behaviour and initiatives to improve co-existence are also key, such as traffic slowing and crossing facilities
Facts about the Iberian lynx:
- Lynx pardinus can live for up to 13 years in the wild
- Females produce litters of 2-3 kittens
- The Iberian lynx is approximately half the size of the Eurasian lynx
- There are fewer Iberian lynx in the wild than snow leopards or sumatran tigers