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

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.

Conservation Success: Iberian Lynx Numbers Reach Historic High in 2024 census
Map showing lynx populations in Spain and Portugal in 2024. Conservation Success: Iberian Lynx Numbers Reach Historic High in 2024 census
Population breakdown

Of the total counted, 1,299 lynxes were adults or subadults. The sex ratio is 1.01 in favour of females, with 602 males and 611 females. In 2023, the number of reproductive or territorial females increased to 406, 80 more than in 2022.

This number is gradually approaching the target of 750 reproductive females, which is considered necessary for a favourable conservation status. The number of cubs born in 2023 also increased to 722, with a fertility rate of 1.77 cubs per territorial female.

Expanding population

The lynx population continues to grow, both in numbers and territory. There are now 14 different geographical areas where the species reproduces. New stable areas have emerged in the Region of Murcia and in the provinces of Albacete, Badajoz, Toledo, and Ciudad Real.

The population trend has been positive since 2015, reducing the extinction risk of the Iberian lynx. Over the past 20 years, the population has grown from less than 100 specimens in 2002 to more than 2,000 in 2023.

Conservation Success: Iberian Lynx Numbers Reach Historic High in 2024 census
The increase is even more remarkable in recent years, with the population rising from 1,111 lynxes in 2020 to almost 2,000 in 2023.
Access to the 2024 Iberian lynx census report

The technical report by the Iberian lynx working group in Spain and Portugal can be consulted on the MITECO website (In Spanish).

Road kill of Iberian lynx

During 2023, 189 Iberian lynxes died. Roadkill is a significant cause of death, and with a population of 2,021 lynxes, the roadkill rate is approximately 7%. This means around 141 lynxes are killed by vehicles annually.

Iberian lynx road kills
Seven percent of lynx population killed on the road is a worrying statistic.
Second lynx in a week dead after being hit by a car on a road in Doñana.
The high detectability of roadkill cases, regardless of radio-collaring, highlights the need for ongoing measures to mitigate this mortality cause.
A successful coordinated programme

The recovery of the Iberian lynx population in Spain and Portugal is a leading example of endangered species conservation. This success is due to coordinated efforts by public administrations, sectoral entities, private estate owners and managers, and the general public.

Iberian lynx Mammals of Spain - Reintroducion of Iberian lynx. Wildlife, natural parks and culture in Spain

Financial contributions from Spanish and Portuguese administrations and the European Union, through the LIFE programme, have been key. These funds have supported monitoring, research, and improvements in survival, reproduction, and habitat.

The Ex Situ conservation programme

The ex situ conservation programme, including captive breeding and reintroduction of specimens, has also been crucial.

Captive breeding requires significant economic resources from the administrations. The ICNF of Portugal manages the Silves breeding centre, the Junta de Andalucía manages the La Olivilla centre (Jaén), and MITECO’s Autonomous Organism National Parks manage the Zarza de Granadilla (Cáceres) and El Acebuche (Huelva) centres.

Annoyingly, the Ex Situ website is not very well updated in English which is the reason I translate and publish the articles here at Wildside Holidays… See here

Historical reintroduction efforts

Since 2011, 372 captive-born individuals have been reintroduced into the wild. Initially, reintroduction areas included Vale do Guadiana in Portugal, Guarrizas and Guadalmellato in Andalucía, Montes de Toledo and Sierra Morena Oriental in Castilla-La Mancha, and Matachel in Extremadura.

Recently, new reintroduction areas have been approved, meeting ecological and social requirements. These areas include Sierra Arana in Andalucía, Valdecañas-Ibores and Ortiga in Extremadura, Tierras Altas de Lorca in the Region of Murcia, and Campos de Hellín in Castilla-La Mancha.

To date, 238 specimens of Iberian lynx have been born in the breeding centres of El Acebuche and Zarza de Granadilla with 150 released in different areas of the Iberian Peninsula.
Since 2011, 372 captive-born individuals have been reintroduced into the wild

Other connection areas with stable lynx populations include the provinces of Sevilla, Toledo, and Cabañeros National Park.

Future reintroduction areas

The number of reintroduction areas is expected to increase in the coming months and years. Several autonomous communities are interested in evaluating the suitability of lynx recovery in their territories.

This article has been translated from the official Spanish announcement here:

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