Sunday, November 2, 2014

Iberian Lynx to be Reintroduced in Portugal

Iberian lynx

It has recently been reported that a deal was signed last week between the Institute for Forest and Nature Conservation (ICNF) and land-owners in order to secure 2,000 hectares of scrubland habitat in Portugal to help reintroduce the critically endangered Iberian lynx. The signing was made on Thursday last week at a ceremony, which was supervised by the country's Secretary of State for Spatial Planning and Nature Conservation Miguel de Castro Neto. He indicated that the deal was a "decisive step in the breeding and conservation project, initiating geographical information, with close collaboration between the owners and managers of the place where the lynx will be reintroduced." The proprietors have shown their willingness in helping the lynx on their land which coincides with the animal's natural habitat. In addition, they can also hope to see their properties increase in economic value through their association with the project. As part of the efforts to bring the Iberian lynx back from extinction, there is even a project called SOS Wild Rabbit which has also been favored by State Secretary Miguel de Castro Neto. This conservation project, which is funded by the Nature Conservation Fund, is designed to find ways to maintain the populations of the European rabbit which is the lynx's main source of prey. One of the main causes for decline in Iberian lynx populations is the sudden drop in the European rabbit population due to disease, habitat loss, and land development.

It is amazing to see that the Iberian lynx is being given a second chance with a promise of reintroduction in Portugal. This magnificent cat once ranged throughout Portugal and Spain before being restricted to only few parts of the Iberian Peninsula. However, with the signing of a deal last week between the ICNF and local landowners, the lynx is now ready to make a comeback to its historical range in Portugal. What makes this deal unique is that it indicates a joint collaboration between conservationists and local people to help ensure the survival of the lynx in Portugal where it once disappeared. Hopefully, this step would also help in the long-run for the Iberian lynx. It has been and continues to be threatened by a variety of issues ranging from land development to habitat loss, poaching, and even disease. In addition, the lynx's major prey source, the European rabbit, also faces the same threats. When one species suffers in the hands of humans, another species is also affected. This is why it is crucial to help both the Iberian lynx and the European rabbit in order to prevent either one from being severely decimated in the unlawful hands of people. Furthermore, it is essential to combat the disease that is devastating the European rabbit population in Portugal and Spain. If the European rabbit population continues to decline, then the Iberian lynx population would also be depleted dramatically and the scrubland ecosystem which these two species are part of would be deeply affected negatively.

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