HUNTERS have been blamed after the bullet-ridden body of a rare Iberian Lynx was found by a police sniffer dog.
Guardia Civil had launched a search after two of the highly endangered cats had gone missing.
Initially it was thought that the two – offspring of a breeding pair that had been released into the wild in the region of Extremadura in the IBERLINCE project – had gone in search of new territory.
But the police force’s wildlife unit SEPRONA launched a search when radio transmitting collars on the animals went dead in January.
They had last been tracked in the Sierra de la Ortiga area of Don Benito (Badajoz).
Fearing the worst, they brought in a dog specially trained to find bodies to help track the cats.
It was the dog that uncovered a shallow grave that contained the decomposing remains of one of the animals.
A post mortem examination found bullets from a hunting rifle in the corpse. Forensic tests gave a time of death and this helped police track down the hunter alleged to be responsible.
He in turn gave police the name of a man who is alleged to have buried the animal.
They have both been arrested.
The Iberian Lynx is the most threatened cat in the world, according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), and is classified as being in danger of extinction.
Police are continuing the investigation hoping to find the fate of the other missing lynx.