Iberian Lynx

He is a wild animal

Origin
Spain
Translation
Francis Vandersteen
The possession of this animal is not authorized Royal Decree establishing the list of mammals not kept for production purposes that may be kept (M.B. 24.08.2009)
The Iberian Lynx, also known as the Spanish Lynx or Lynx pardelle, is a species of the Lynx genus.

At present, two main population nuclei exist in southern Spain, one in a mountainous area (Sierra Morena) characterized by a dehesa landscape, and one in the coastal area of the Coto Doñana, characterized by sandy plains and scrubby dunes. Its main restriction in terms of habitat is the presence of a high density of rabbits and quiet areas (gullies, dense undergrowth) for calving.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were around 100,000 Lynx living in the wild between southern Spain and Portugal. In the 1960s, the population was estimated at around 5,000 individuals on the Iberian Peninsula. By the 1980s, the population had dwindled to around 1,000-1,200 individuals, covering an area of some 11,000 km2, and by 2005, only 160 individuals remained, covering an area of just 585 km2. In recent years, however, numbers have tended to increase. In 2013, the population numbered around 312 lynx, compared with 94 ten years earlier. The latest count in 2017 counted 589 cats, 448 of them in Andalusia.

The highly endangered Iberian lynx saw its populations fall drastically during the late 20th century due to epidemics of myxomatosis and, above all, viral haemorrhagic disease, which decimated its main prey, rabbits, and major road networks that fragmented its habitat and increased the number of collisions with vehicles: Iberian lynx populations fell by 80% in the space of twenty years.

Like all lynxes, the face of the Iberian Lynx is adorned with a collar of long hair around the neck and triangular ears topped by a tuft of black hair. It has only 28 teeth instead of the usual 30 for felines. The short tail ends in a black muff. The legs are long and the paws voluminous compared to the rest of the body.

The coat of the Iberian Lynx is much more mottled than that of other Lynx species.

The average Iberian Lynx weighs 9 to 13 kg, the male being generally larger and taller than the female. Total length is 85 to 110 cm, with a tail of 12 to 13 cm. Height at the withers is 42 to 47 cm.

The Iberian Lynx is an excellent jumper, thanks to its hind limbs that are particularly well adapted to leaping: as an example, a captive lynx escaped by jumping over a four-meter electrified fence.

The Iberian lynx mainly hunts European rabbits, which account for 80-100% of its diet. This explains why its range is restricted to the Iberian peninsula. In the absence of rabbits, it feeds on rodents, Iberian hare, birds (red partridge, ducks, geese) and occasionally juvenile red deer and fallow deer.

The Lynx pardelle exerts predatory pressure on the ichneumon mongoose, itself a major predator of rabbits. The presence of the Lynx pardelle therefore increases the number of rabbits, which is an example of a trophic cascade.

This species is in a critical situation. Its main food resource, the rabbit population, has suffered from successive epidemics of myxomatosis and haemorrhagic fever. In addition, lynx populations are severely fragmented, notably as a result of intensive monocultures (olive trees, strawberries, etc.). For example, illegal strawberry cultivation (which is also highly polluting) is encroaching on more than 100 ha in the Doñana National Nature Park. Road traffic is another major threat. Finally, the Iberian lynx, like other endangered carnivores on the Iberian peninsula (Iberian eagle, wolf, Egyptian vulture), regularly falls victim to poisoned bait planted for foxes and other small carnivores deemed to be pests.

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