The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), sometimes referred to as the Spanish lynx, is a critically endangered feline mammal native to the Iberian Peninsula in Southern Europe. The species often used to be misclassified as a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), but is now considered a separate species. Both species occurred together in central Europe in the Pleistocene epoch, being separated by habitat choice. The Iberian lynx is believed to have evolved from Lynx issiodorensis.
While the Eurasian lynx bears rather pallid markings, the Iberian lynx has distinctive, leopard-like spots with a coat that is often light grey or various shades of light brownish-yellow. Some western populations were spotless though these have recently become extinct.
The head and body length is 85–110 cm, with the short tail an additional 12–30 cm; the shoulder height is 60–70 cm. The male is larger than the female, with the average weight of males 12.9 kg and a maximum of 26.8 kg, compared to 9.4 kg for females; this about half the size of the Eurasian lynx.
The Iberian lynx does not differ greatly from the Eurasian lynx but more closely resembles a bobcat. The face is more cat-like than that of Eurasian lynx. It has a short stubby bob tail with a black tip, and a tuft of black hair on the tip of the pointed ears, whiskers and sideburns.
It hunts mammals (including rodents and insectivores), birds, reptiles and amphibians at twilight. The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is its main prey (79.5-86.7%), with (5.9%) hares (Lepus granatensis) and (3.2%) rodents less common. A male requires one rabbit per day, and a female bringing up cubs will eat three rabbits per day.
As the population of rabbits in Spain has declined, the Iberian lynx is often forced to attack young deer, fallow deer, roebuck or mouflons. The Iberian lynx competes with the red fox, the meloncillo (Herpestes ichneumon) and the wildcat.
It is solitary and hunts alone; it will stalk its prey or lie in wait for hours behind a bush or rock until the prey is sufficiently close to pounce in a few strides.
The tufts of hair on its ears helps it to detect sources of sound; without them, its hearing capacity is greatly reduced. The edges of its feet are covered in long thick hair, which facilitates silent movement through snow. Lynx, especially with younger animals, roam widely, with ranges reaching more than 100 km. Also it has a territory (~ 10-20 km²), depending on how much food is available.
The Iberian lynx marks its territory with its urine, droppings and scratch marks on the barks of trees.
Studies conducted in March 2005 have estimated the number of surviving Iberian lynx to be as few as 100, which is down from about 400 in 2000. If the Iberian lynx were to become extinct, it would be the first big cat species to do so since the extinction of the Smilodon.
The Iberian lynx and its habitat are fully protected and are no longer legally hunted. Its critical status is mainly due to habitat loss, poisoning, road casualties, feral dogs and poaching. Its habitat loss is due mainly to infrastructure improvement, urban & resort development, tree monocultivation (pine, pseudotsuga, eucalyptus) which serves to break the lynx's distribution area. In addition, the lynx prey population of rabbits is also declining due to diseases like myxomatosis and hemorrhagic pneumonia.
On March 29, 2005, the birth of three cubs, the first born in captivity, was announced. Four more cubs were born in 2006. These recent births seem to open up the prospect of a future reintroduction of the species to parts of its former habitat where it has disappeared.
THE COURT FINDS THAT COMMISSION HAS FAILED TO PROVE THAT UPGRADING OF A TRANSPORT LINK RISKS BRINGING ABOUT EXTINCTION OF IBERIAN LYNX IN DONANA PARK IN SPAIN.
May 20, 2010; Luxembourg -- The following information was released by the European Union: The Habitats Directive1 provides for the creation,...