Category Archives: Wildlife

The Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia)

The Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia), also known as the arrui, is a species of wild sheep native to the arid regions of North Africa, including the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. It was introduced into Spain in the 1970s for hunting purposes. It has since established populations in several regions of the country, such as Andalusia, Castilla-La Mancha, and Murcia feeding on grasses, bushes, and lichens.

The largest free-range population in Spain is found in the Southeast of Spain, mostly from the Sierra Espuña to the Sierra Cazorla.

In Spanish the barbary sheep is called arruí, muflón del Atlas or carnero de berbería.

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Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) Lince Ibérico

Overview

Lynx pardinus (Felis pardina or pardinus, Felis lynx pardina, Lynx lynx pardina)… Too many names!

Once found throughout Spain and Portugal. the Iberian lynx began to decline in the first half of the 20th century due to over hunting and trapping for the fur trade. This decline was hugely accelerated after the 1950’s with the spread of myxomatosis. A disease which decimated populations of the European rabbit, the lynx’s main prey.

From the 1980’s the Iberian lynx was considered by IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) to be critically endangered and became known as the world’s most threatened cat species.

However, as a result of the increasing population size, the Iberian Lynx no longer qualifies for IUCN Critically Endangered status and is therefore listed as Endangered under criterion D. The improved status of this species is all due to various intensive and ongoing conservation programs.

Current populations and programs

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Conservation Success: Iberian Lynx Numbers Reach Historic High in 2024 census

Some pretty amazing news from Spain and Portugal! A Conservation Success: Iberian Lynx Numbers Reach Historic High in 2024 census.

The total census of Iberian lynx now stands at 2,021 individuals. This includes 1,299 adults or subadults and 722 cubs born last year. After surpassing 1,000 specimens in 2020, the Iberian population has doubled in just three years.

Read about the Iberian Lynx here.

2023 census findings

The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) census in Spain and Portugal for 2023 showed significant growth. The species has exceeded 2,000 specimens, a new record since detailed population monitoring began.

This is highlighted in the report by the Iberian lynx working group, coordinated by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO). The group includes representatives from Spanish autonomous communities and the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) of Portugal.

Distribution of lynxes

The report indicates a total of 2,021 lynxes, with 1,730 in Spain (85.6%) and 291 in Portugal. Four Spanish autonomous communities host stable populations. Andalucía has 755 specimens, 43.6% of the Spanish population. Castilla-La Mancha has 715 lynxes (41.3%). Extremadura has 253 specimens, and the Region of Murcia has seven.

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Megarian banded centipede – Scolopendra cingulata – Escolopendra

  • Scientific: Scolopendra cingulata
  • English: Megarian Banded Centipede
  • Spanish: Escolopendra

The Megarian banded centipede – Scolopendra cingulata – Escolopendra is one of the smallest members of the scolopendra family at approximately 10-15 cm. They are easily recognised by the alternating bands of black and yellow/gold. They can be found throughout southern Europe and typically inhabit dark, damp environments such as areas beneath logs and rocks.

The head of this centipede has a pair of antennae, jaw-like mandibles, and other mouth parts. Each segment has one pair of legs. The front segment has a pair of venomous claws (called maxillipedes) that are used for both defense and for capturing and paralyzing prey.

The venom is less toxic than other scolopendrid centipedes, but they are still fast moving and can be aggressive so it’s best just to look at these colourful creatures rather than try to handle them.

scolopendra cingulata-escolopendra-megarian banded centipede
Scolopendra cingulata – Escolopendra – Megarian banded centipede
Feeding habits

They are mostly nocturnal and opportunistic carnivorous hunters, feeding on a broad variety of ground dwelling insects and carrion such as road kill. Youngsters will eat crickets, or other small insects. Adults will consume almost any creature that is not larger that itself, including large crickets, other large insects, and even small lizards.

This is a fascinating video taken by Boran Zlatarev of a Megarian banded centipede – Scolopendra cingulata – Escolopendra feeding on road kill in Spain. (Horseshoe whip snake). Most people think that these centipedes hunt and kill live prey but this video shows that opportunistic carrion is also a part of their daily diet.

See more bugs and beasties in Spain here.


Ronda Today

Everything you need to know before you visit Ronda “The city of dreams” in Andalucia. https://www.rondatoday.com/

Visit Cádiz

Planning on visiting Cádiz? Tourist information. Monuments. Hotels. Activities. City guides: https://visitingcadiz.com/

The Caminito del Rey

Find tickets for the Caminito del Rey: https://www.caminodelrey.es/

Wildside Holidays – Spain

Take a trip on the Wildside! Discover the wildlife and nature of Spain, its Natural and National Parks and find the top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies.

Iberia Nature Forum

Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum! https://iberianatureforum.com/