Category Archives: Mammals of Spain

Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica hispanica) Cabra montés

The Spanish Ibex (Capra pyrenaica hispanica) Cabra montés frequently found in herds across the Andalucian mountain ranges are wild mountain goats. There were until fairly recently, more subspecies spaced around the Iberian peninsular, but now only two exist.

These mammals which originate exclusively in the mountains of Iberia are known as Cabra montés in Spanish. They are generally shades of brown around the body with black markings on the chest, flanks and legs in the males, whereas the females are paler. The adult males can reach a weight of 80-100 kg and are approximately double the size of the females.

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Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus) Lobo Ibérico

  • Spanish: Lobo
  • Catalan: Llop

The Iberian wolf, Canis Lupus, has suffered much persecution over the centuries. Already being eradicated from many countries and, despite a bounty on every head of a wolf during the 1950’s and 60’s. Some small populations of these mammals survived and now receive a partial protection especially when they reside in protected (natural and national park) areas of Spain.

Read about the recent hunting ban of the Iberian wolf over at the Iberia Nature Forum: https://iberianatureforum.com/forums/topic/iberian-wolf-hunting-ban/ Feel free to join in with the topics there! 🙂

Iberian wolf populations are mainly in scattered packs in the forests and plains of north-western Spain, the Sierra Morena in Andalusia and the north of Portugal also holds small numbers.

The Iberian wolf can reach a height of around 70cm and length of 120cm. The animal is different in colour from the Eurasian wolf by having dark markings on its forelegs, back and tail with white markings on its upper lips.

This is the reason for the last part of the scientific name, with signatus meaning “marked”. Males weigh around 40kg with females being of a finer / slimmer build.

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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

Project LifeLynxConnect

The current official website (2020 to 2025) for the Iberian lynx conservation program is: https://lifelynxconnect.eu/

The latest population figures are 1111 Iberian lynx in the wild with about 150 in captive breeding programs…

There is a very good article here in Spanish detailing the distribution of the Iberian lynx: https://www.ellinceiberico.com/poblaciones-lince-iberico/


Keep up to date with news and information about the Iberian Lynx and other Iberian wildlife at the Iberia Nature Forum: https://iberianatureforum.com/


A bit of history about th Iberian lynx

Additional factors in the lynx’s decline include habitat loss (which affects both the lynx itself as well as its rabbit prey), illegal hunting, accidental killing by snares and poison baits set for other animals, and roadkill.

By 2000 it was considered to exist in a heavily fragmented population in which only two groups are large enough to have long-term prospects of genetic viability.

Habitat, description and life cycle

The Iberian Lynx prefers habitats of scrubland and open woods bordering onto pastures or clearings. Each lynx has its own individual area but a male may overlap into the territory of several females. A defended territory may vary from 4 to 20 km2 depending on food availability.

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Reintroducion of Iberian lynx to Catalonia and Aragon

From the most endangered cat species in the world to a success story for managed wildlife protection schemes, the reintroducion of the Iberian lynx to Catalonia and Aragon seems to be the next step forward with the project being supported by the Spanish Government and an area of around 30,000 hectares being studied for suitability.

The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) has been absent from Catalonia and Aragon for over a century but in 2018 an introduced lynx called “Litio” managed to reach Santa Coloma de Cervelló just 15 minutes from Barcelona, ​​after making a seemingly impossible 1000 km journey crossing motorways, rivers and mountains from the Portuguese Algarve.

Litio” was later captured (in lynx heaven one supposes) on a farm surrounded by rabbits and cherry trees and returned to Doñana (Huelva), where the species has one of its largest populations.

There are two main areas of studies for this project with the first being a suitable habitat with food supply (rabbits) for the reintroduction of the species in an area that includes 10,000 hectares of Aragón and 20,000 in Catalonia and the second (being larger and more difficult) with the study and implementation of wildlife “corridors” connecting some of the eastern Iberian populations of lynx.

Reintroduction habitat

The initial field work in both Catalonia and Aragón has located possible ideal habitats, with an abundance of prey such as rabbits, shelters such as rock and scrub and with little human infrastructure. In Catalonia the location is the Mas Melons-Alfés area, a natural space already protected by the Natura 2000 network, between the Garrigues and Segrià regions south of Lleida and adjacent to Aragón. In Aragón the chosen area is the Sierra de Alcubierre, located at the western limit of Los Monegros. (Los Monegros is also being studied for posible inclusion as national Park)

Wildlife corridors and project coperation

The initial idea would be to create a corridor from the east, linking the regions of Valencia, Murcia, Catalonia and Aragón. The plan is also to cooperate with existing and new lynx projects such as the two new lynx re introduction areas, one in Lorca (Murcia) and the other in Sierra Arana (Granada) which already have funding of almost 20 million euros over the next five years. (In Valencia, there is also a project run by the Cardenal Herrera University to study the viability of lynx reintroductions in the Valencian Community).

It seems that all the experts are agreeing that the only way forward now for the Iberian Lynx is the natural mixing of the various lynx populations across Iberia in order to ensure a complete genetic diversity of the species.

Further reading on the Reintroducion of Iberian lynx to Catalonia and Aragon

The PreLynxCatAr project will 12 months and in its preliminary phase the suitability of the territory, already defined, will be studied to assess the risks (such as roads) and its population of rabbits. It is being carried out by CBD-Hábitat, CREW Foundation, Trenca, Zoo de Barcelona and the Fundación Biodiversidad del Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico del Gobierno de España.

Article in Spanish here (El Pais): https://elpais.com/clima-y-medio-ambiente/2021-07-23/el-lince-iberico-se-acerca-a-cataluna-y-aragon.html

Read more about the Iberian Lynx here: https://wildsideholidays.co.uk/iberian-lynx-lynx-pardinus-lince-iberico/


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