Environmental Information Center General Foreign Affairs; Fan Zhenhua Translator; Lai Huiling Reviewer; Source: Mongabay At noon on a summer day, with temperatures soaring to 40°C, we followed in the footsteps of our nature guide, Nuno Roxo, as we strolled through Portugal's Guadiana Valley National Park. Months of sunshine without rain scorched the tall grass to the brink of death. We followed the path of wild boar and deer, and the disturbed hare ran quickly into the grass. The sight is a good omen for the return of the local apex predator, the Lynx pardinus (also known as the great lynx), whose favorite prey is the hare. Nuno said that in his years of guided tours, he had only caught a glimpse of the elusive cat once. And to see them in action, it's best to stay near the sheep pen, because they'll be in ambush here, but not for the sheep.
The lynx is here waiting for the fox that will attack the sheep, so many landlords are grateful for their presence." From critically endangered to endangered: once the world's most endangered big cat, the Iberian lynx population has turned from the bottom But the Iberian lynx wasn't always popular with humans. Half a century ago, the Iberian Peninsula, where Spain and Portugal are located, was home to thousands of Iberian lynxes. Their populations are half that of the northern, cool-climate Eurasian lynx ( Lynx lynx ), but both were once notorious for hunting livestock number list and being seen by farmers as vermin that must be culled. Hunters also hunt them for fur and meat, or simply as trophies. The Iberian lynx was not legally protected until the early 1970s. But habitat fragmentation, road kills, and loss of prey—especially the dwindling population of the staple cave rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus )—have kept Iberian lynx populations down, reaching new lows around the millennium. In 2002, there were only 94 Iberian lynx left in Spain, while Portugal directly declared the local lynx extinct.
The Iberian lynx has become one of the most endangered big cats in the world, second only to the Far Eastern leopard ( Panthera pardus orientalis ), and is likely to be the first cat family to become extinct in 12,000 years after the disappearance of the sword-foot tiger. However, the survival of the Iberian lynx, whose population was once so precarious, has turned from rock bottom after the intervention of conservation measures. The Spanish government, scientists and environmental groups have successfully released captive individuals back into their natural habitat, working with conservation units and organizations in Portugal. In 2016, the first Iberian lynx born in captivity was released into the Alentejo region, southeast of Portugal, close to the Spanish border. So far, 47 Iberian lynx have been released into the wild. to Portugal. There are currently an estimated 1,000 lynx populations on the Iberian Peninsula, of which about 154 live in the Guadiana Valley in Portugal. This remarkable recovery has allowed the Iberian lynx to advance from the Critically Endangered (CR) to Endangered (EN) rating on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.