By B.C. Riley
Green Right Now

This rare, critically endangered felid is the world’s most threatened cat. Only about 100 are left, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their ideal habitat is open grassland for hunting, mixed with shrubs and maquis thicket. However, habitat loss has forced them into more mountainous areas. Roaming mainly throughout Spain and possibly Portugal, the Lynx pardinus is a fearless, solitary hunter that wildlife conservationists say must be protected.

Iberian Lynxes have jaguar-like spots. (Photo: World Wildlife Fund)

Unlike most predators, the Iberian Lynx relies almost entirely upon one animal for food: rabbits. Unfortunately, a rapid decline in rabbit populations due to the RHD disease and over hunting has caused the lynx to search for other prey. Now dwelling in unfamiliar habitat, they must adapt to a new way of living to survive.

In the 1970s, Iberian Lynx hunting was banned, but illegal hunting still occurs today. Increasing roads and infrastructure are also damaging critical shrub lands, not to mention causing many Iberian Lynxes to be run over by cars.

Facts about Iberian Lynxes:

  • Iberian Lynxes are skilled at climbing trees.
  •  Their coats have jaguar-like spots with grayish fur, distinguishing it from other lynxes.
  • Iberian Lynxes are half the size of the Eurasian Lynx, weighing an average of only 25 lbs.
  •  They are nocturnal, except for in winter when they are active during the day.
  • The only time they live together is when the mothers care for their young, otherwise they are solitary.

Spain and Portugal have not only made it illegal to hunt Iberian Lynxes, but have strategized a way to save this beautiful animal. Spain has already begun breeding them in captivity, and the National Action Plan in Portugal has started a program to re-introduce them into the wild. To find out more about Iberian Lynxes, go to their webpage at World Wildlife Fund. The WWF has been working for more than a decade with Spain to save the Iberian Lynx.

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