The Iberian lynx has increased its population in recent years based on an artificial breeding program in captivity and regular releases into the wild that create a false image about the species' true situation.
personality can mean survival
finding new ways to keep the iberian lynx alive in the wild
The Iberian lynx needs your help.
Just a few years ago there were less than one hundred of these previous animals in the wild. Now, due to the hard work by reproduction programmes in Spain and Portugal, there are just over 500 individuals running wild.
Sadly, however, many lynxes are dying once released into the wild meaning their existence is still very, very fragile. In 2017 there were 58 deaths recorded. That means a loss of more that 10% of the population.
Our project will help improve the survival chances of lynxes that are released into the wild from captivity.
Yulán is our principal researcher for this project. She explains why this project is so important to her as a biologist:
"When I was doing my research into personality and welfare in chimpanzees, I realised that many researchers (including me!) are not as pragmatic as they should be. Rarely does our work influence real world change.
Therefore, some years ago I decided to focus one of my research areas on mental illness in ex-pet and ex-performer chimpanzees, using the results to influence change in the scarce animal protection laws in Spain. Similarly, to help protect one of the most endangered felids in the world with my research and educational outcomes would be one of the most satisfying goals for my career as a conservation biologist."
MEET THE IBERIAN LYNX
The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is a wild cat species native to the Iberian peninsula. During the 20th century, the population declined to the point of near extinction due to a sharp reduction in rabbit numbers, fragmentation of grassland and forest habitats and poaching.
At the turn of the 21st century, less than 100 individuals survived and were divided between two isolated sub-populations.
Imagine this: the Iberian lynx has already recovered to the point that it is not longer a critically endangered species but the population still cannot recover because so many individuals are dying out in the wild. The main cause: road collisions. The poor Iberian lynx has lost its habitat to roads, developments and greenhouses. We need to help Europe's most endangered felid get out of the danger zone.
There are just 547 Iberian lynxes in the wild. Yet, in 2017 58 were found dead. 31 had been killed during traffic collisions, 9 due to poaching and the rest due to unknown or natural causes. You can read more about this in a report published by Ecologistas en Acción.
While we cannot remove all the roads and traffic from the Iberian lynxes' natural habitats, what we can do is use our scientific expertise improve their chances of survival. Our principal investigator, Yulán Úbeda, has many years of experience in the study of personality animals. We want to use this knowledge to see if selecting release candidates based on their personality traits can reduce the number of deaths after the lynxes are released into the wild.
The most valuable benefit about this research is that we will be able to see the results of our study within one year. In comparison to other options such as securing new release environments, we can make a huge difference in a very limited amount of time.
The research programme
The overarching goal of this project is “to assure a prosperous future for the populations of Iberian lynxes”. The focus would be on the importance of the selection of appropriate subjects for a successful reintroduction and on educational programs for youngest local people. The project has six objectives to achieve this goal:
Rate Personality in a group of Iberian Lynxes hosted at the breeding Centers for the “Iberian Lynx Ex-situ Conservation Programme”, so as to obtain results for understanding the Felids personality from an evolutionary perspective.
Assess which profiles of personality are related with a successful reintroduction after release.
Apply the observed assessment to select the most appropriates subjects for following reintroduction programmes.
Evaluate the success of the selection criteria.
Create an educational programme by creating engaging stories about the lynxes studies, their personalities and day to day lives. Deliver the stories to school children in the areas where the lynx lives to raise awareness. Distribute this content widely online with the help of videos and written articles targeting media outlets in Spain, Portugal and more widely in Europe to raise further awareness.
Influence policy makers and local actors perception of the Iberian lynx as an important member of the ecosystem and encourage better conservation of their habitat, especially in new release sites.
If you'd like to know more about the details of this programme and our research methods then please contact us and we will be very happy to send you more information.
want to help?
Do you want to help us raise awareness about the precious Iberian lynx and its fight for survival? Do you live in an area that the Iberian lynx calls home and want to get involved with the project?
Get in touch and we're sure there's a way we can help each other to preserve this wonderful creature.