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The Greatest Ever Recovery of a Wild Cat Species

In what one conservationist called “the greatest recovery of a cat species ever achieved through conservation,” the Iberian lynx has been brought back from the brink of extinction.

Wild Iberian lynx  sitting on a rock
Iberian lynx.

The Iberian Peninsula is a mountainous region that's most associated with the countries of Spain and Portugal and is home to the rare wild cat species of the same name. It once thrived here, but hunting and habitat loss pushed the creature to near extinction. Happily, though, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has just announced that the Iberian lynx has been downgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable” on the Red List of Threatened Species.

The keystone species’ numbers have grown exponentially, from 62 mature individuals in 2001 to 648 in 2022. Today, the total population, including young, is believed to be over 2,000. That’s thanks to the remarkable endeavours of conservationists who successfully restored habitats that increased the abundance of prey - most particularly rabbits, its main prey; and by reducing deaths from human activity, and expanding the lynx’s genetic diversity.

“The significant recovery of the Iberian lynx demonstrates that even the most threatened species can be brought back from the brink of extinction through committed, science-based conservation action and provides hope for those working to protect wildlife across the globe,” Sarah Durant, a professor at the Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology, said in a statement.

If you would like to watch the cats in their natural habitat, here's a video from BBC Earth.


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