At it like rabbits

LAST UPDATED: 1 Apr, 2009 @ 13:24
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At it like rabbits

Baby boom at breeding centres brings forward Iberian lynx release

IT is the favourite food of the Iberian lynx. And it seems that that most endangered of cats has taken on one of the more lascivious habits of its main prey, the rabbit.

A population explosion has meant that the three breeding centres in Andalucía are now fully-booked following the birth of 13 lynx cubs this year.

And by the year’s end, a further eight are expected to bring the total number of lynx in captivity to 60.

“Since we started rearing Iberian lynx in breeding centres in Huelva, Jaen and Jerez de la Frontera, the numbers born each year have grown exponentially. There were two in 2005, three the following year and six in 2007,” said Astrid Vargas, director of LIFE, an EU-funded program to boost the population of the endangered animal, of which only 200 are thought to exist.

And this baby boom will see reintroduction programs in Córdoba and Jaen brought forward 12 months.

“We never expected so many cubs to be born healthy this year. We intended to release six mating pairs in the wild at Guadalmellato in Córdoba and Guarrizas in Jaen in 2010. But with the numbers that we now have in the three breeding centres, we will do this in the autumn of next year,” added Vargas.

The 2009 release of the dozen Iberian lynx has been met with approval by conservation groups. Luis Suarez, the director of WWF/Adena, believes it will bring about the end of the cat’s endangered status.

Speaking at the Third Seminar of the Conservation of the Iberian Lynx, held last week in Huelva, he said: “This is another step in the right direction in the conservation of the World’s rarest cat.”

The conference heard how plans are also underway to build a second breeding centre in Jaen and one in Portugal, a country from which the animal is extinct.

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