THE fires currently raging in Huelva may have destroyed years of conservation work for one of the world’s most endangered species.

It comes after handlers of the Iberian Lynx at the El Acebuche breeding centre were forced to release the adult animals into the wild while taking the young to another facility.

The big cat was nearing extinction a decade ago, but following a ten-year conservation programme that brought hunters, farmers and the tourist industry under its wing, its numbers had tripled from 94 to 312 by 2014.

The El Acebuche breeding centre was the first to be built in a group of four in 2005, followed by La Olivilla in Jaen (2007), Silves in Portugal (2009), and Zarza de Grandilla in Caceres (2011).

It is seen as integral to the EU-supported breeding programme.

Some 550 firefighters are continuing to fight the blaze, which began in Moguer on Saturday night.

The inferno is threatening Sevilla’s Donana National Park, considered to be one of Europe’s most important wetlands.

Arson has not been ruled out.



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