Iberian Lynx

Iberian Lynx

name = Iberian Lynx
status = CR
trend = down
status_system = iucn3.1
status_ref = IUCN2006|assessors=Cat Specialist Group|year=2002|id=12520|title=Lynx pardinus|downloaded=10 May 2006 Database entry includes justification for why this species is critically endangered]

image_width = 240px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Felidae
genus = "Lynx"
species = "L. pardinus"
binomial = "Lynx pardinus"

range_map_width= 240px
binomial_authority = (Temminck, 1827)

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.IUCN Cat Specialist Group: [http://lynx.uio.no/jon/lynx/lynxib01.htm Iberian lynx "Lynx pardinus"] ] The Iberian lynx is believed to have evolved from "Lynx issiodorensis". [cite book | author = Björn Kurtén | title = Pleistocene Mammals of Europe | year = 1968]


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.United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre Species Data Sheets: [http://www.unep-wcmc.org/species/data/species_sheets/iberlynx.htm Iberian lynx "Lynx pardinus"] ] Animal Diversity Web: [http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lynx_pardinus.html "Lynx pardinus"] ]

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.


The Iberian lynx is smaller than its northern relatives, and so typically hunts smaller sized animals, usually no larger than hares. It also differs in habitat choice, with Iberian lynx inhabiting open scrub and Eurasian lynx inhabiting forests.

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.cite web | work = Dan Ward | url = http://www.lcie.org/Docs/Iberian%20lynx/Ward%20REP%20The%20Iberian%20lynx%20emergency.pdf | title = The Iberian Lynx Emergency | | accessdate = 2007-05-13 | date = 2004|format=PDF]

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.


During the mating season the female leaves her territory in search of a male. The typical gestation period is about two months; the cubs are born between March and September, with a peak of births in March and April. A litter consists of two or three (rarely one, or four to five) kittens weighing between 200–250 grams. The kittens become independent at 7–10 months old, but remain with the mother until around 20 months old. Survival of the young depends heavily on the availability of prey species. In the wild both males and females reach sexual maturity at one year old, though in practice they rarely breed until a territory becomes vacant; one female was known not to breed until five years old when its mother died. The maximum longevity in the wild is 13 years.


This lynx was once distributed over the entire Iberian Peninsula. It is now restricted to very small areas, with breeding only confirmed in two areas of Andalucía, southern Spain. The Iberian lynx prefers heterogeneous environments of open grassland mixed with dense shrubs such as Arbutus, lentisk, and Juniper; and trees such as Holm oak and Cork oak. Mainly in mountainous areas covered with vegetation; maquis or "Mediterranean forest".


The Iberian lynx is a critically endangered species. The Iberian lynx is the world's most threatened species of cat, and the most threatened carnivore in Europe. [cite web | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6530743.stm | title = EU 'put Portugal wildlife under threat' | accessdate = 2007-04-10 | work = [http://news.bbc.co.uk BBC News] | date = 2007-04-08]

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. [cite web | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4336071.stm | title = Iberian lynx in 'gravest danger' | work = [http://news.bbc.co.uk BBC News] | accessdate = 2007-04-10 | date = 2005-03-10] 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".Fact|date=April 2007

The only breeding populations are in Spain, living in the Doñana National Park and in the Sierra de Andújar, Jaén.

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. [cite book | author = Mitchell-Jones, et al | title = The Atlas of European Mammals | year = 1999]

On March 29, 2005, the birth of three cubs, the first born in captivity, was announced. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4394005.stm BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Hopes raised by Spain lynx births ] ] 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.


External links

* [http://www.soslynx.org/ SOS Lynx: photos, news and information about the Iberian Lynx in English and Portuguese]
* [http://www.lcie.org/ Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe - Iberian Lynx]
*es [http://www.lynxexsitu.es/ Programa de Conservación Ex-Situ] Official page Spanish government.
*ARKive - [http://www.arkive.org/species/GES/mammals/Lynx_pardinus/ images and movies of the Iberian lynx "(Lynx pardinus)"]
* [http://www.iberianature.com/material/iberianlynx.htm The natural history of the Iberian lynx]
* [http://www.greenconsumerguide.com/index.php?news=2480 A more critical view]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/4579015.stm A BBC report of a football team sponsoring lynx conservation.]
*es [http://es.geocities.com/linxpardinus/ Lynx photos]
*es [http://www.vertebradosibericos.org/mamiferos/lynpar.html Lynx in vertebradosibericos.org]

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