In 2019, is an individual Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) worth €169,000? I would say it quite definitely is, but I am an ardent conservationist. Others have criticized a conservation project managed by the Spanish government and paid for by Spanish taxpayers and the European Union to beef up the population size of the Iberian lynx which lives in south of Spain and Portugal.
Critics argue that the money could have been spent better on alleviating high unemployment in Andalusia (currently at 21%), the area where the lynx lives. In all the project has cost €100 million since 2002.
A hundred years ago there were 10,000 lynx roaming Spain, Portugal and the south of France. In 2002 there were only 94 left after irresponsible hunting and loss of habit together with a slump in the population of rabbits, a prey item upon which they depend.
Today the population has recovered to 686 individual animals on the Iberian Peninsula according to a count by Iberline, a conservation organisation. They have been spotted near Madrid and Barcelona which is away from their normal territory in Andalusia, in the south.
The success of the program is due to re-establishing the rabbit population which had been devastated by myxomatosis in the 1990s. Each rabbit introduced has cost €10 and in all 60,000 have been added to the Iberian lynx’s habitat. In addition there are now four lynx breeding centres to create new cubs.
Of course hunting of this cat species has been banned and as a consequence the IUCN has assessed its survivability in the wild as endangered from critically endangered.
At one time there were calls for a breeding program to be started in the UK in order to save the species.
Note: the calculation of 169k euros per cat. 686-94=592. Divide 592 into 100m to get almost 160k.