Anne-Marie Hodge writing for the Ecology Global Network paints a bleak picture of the survival of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), the rarest of all wild cat species. She says that climate change is an added factor in the demise of this species where it lives, in two small areas in southwestern Spain. Climate change will kill this species off once and for all unless bold decisions are made and acted upon.
For years the population of Iberian lynx has been eroded by human persecution, if we are honest and want to ball together all the major influences that are detrimental to its existence. Seven-five percent of mortalities are ‘unnatural’. By human persecution I include hunting this cat, loss of habitat, loss of prey (to more hunting?).
Anne-Marie Hodge writes that there are 250 left on the planet. She may be optimistic as when I wrote about this species of small-medium cat some years ago the maximum estimated population was 143 in the stronghold area in the southwest of Spain.
Very recently I wrote about the rewilding of three areas in the UK with the Eurasian lynx. There are people who are very keen on reinstating large wild species into Great Britain to enhance the country. The lynx was extirpated in the wild in the UK 1,300 years ago. We have a duty to right that wrong. We are wiser nowadays and know more about conservation.
If, as is the case, we are seriously considering reintroducing the lynx to Great Britain, it might make sense to do it with the Iberian lynx rather than the more populous Eurasian lynx which is not considered to be of concern to conservationists.
We know how risky relocating wild species can be but this is a nice opportunity to be part of saving a cat from extinction.
Because of the added threat of global warming computer models have predicted the extinction of the Iberian lynx in 50 years (Journal: Nature Climate Science). Apparently global warming will affect the lynx’s prey and without prey there is no lynx. Also the lynx cannot adapt to climate change quickly enough to survive.
The lynx cannot move north to cooler locations because there isn’t a corridor for it to pass through. To create new corridors would be too slow a process. The dire prediction is made despite big efforts using the usual means by Spain’s wildlife organizations to save it.
It has been suggested that the entire population of Iberian lynx be moved to the north. If this sort of desperate measure is being considered it would appear to make sense to also consider relocating a percentage to the areas allocated for rewilding in the UK.
There are moral and ethical issues in relocating the entire population of a species. There may be similar issues in relocating this species into a country where they never existed before. However, the Iberian lynx is a subspecies of the lynx and the other species are similar. On that basis it would seem feasible provided there is the will to carry through such an exercise.
P.S. Writing again on this cat over 5 years later, the Iberian lynx is said to be making a comeback. Click here to read about it if you want.
Part of the source: The Iberian Lynx Faces Extinction | Ecology Global Network.