By Eloise Horsfield
TWO men have been charged with shooting dead a protected feline.
The corpse of the Iberian lynx – the most endangered big cat in the world – was found in July in Doñana National Park, Sevilla, on the boundary of a hunting reserve, containing 30 lead bullets.
Two hunters were identified after the deadly pellets were analysed by ballistics experts, and the pair will now face court.
The news comes as two other Iberian lynxes die in captivity in Andalucia.
On October 5 at a breeding centre in El Acebuche, four-month-old female cub Hura died suddenly from a pulmonary infection which specialists are now investigating.
Two weeks later on October 19, a four-year-old male named Datil died of kidney disease at another breeding centre in Olivilla near Jaen.
Datil entered phase three of the chronic disease a year ago, and had since been receiving palliative care in order to make his last few months bearable.
There are thought to be just 250 of these iconic Andalucian felines living in the wild.
The Lynx Life project has been working to raise their population since 2003 through breeding, releasing individuals into the wild then tracking their progress, replenishing rabbit stocks – pretty much the only thing lynxes eat – and legislating against snare-laying.