Iberian lynx conservation in Portugal: Dilemmas and solutions

P Sarmento, Joana Cruz, P Monterroso, P Tarroso, C Ferreira, N Negrões

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A team of biologists and field assistants conducted, between January 2002 and May 2003, a survey on the status of the Iberian lynx in Portugal. The survey was performed on previously identified lynx areas, during studies carried out in the 1970-s and 1990-s <br /> Intensive search for lynx scats, for DNA analysis, and camera trapping provided a basis for identifying potential lynx areas. Over 4200 km were covered during a global searching effort of 1975 man-hours. This effort resulted in the collection of 168 potential scats that were submitted to genetic validation with no positive lynx amplifications. Camera trapping was applied in a total effort of 5647 camera days, in three lynx potential areas. No positive detections were achieved. At the same time, a study on wild rabbit distribution reveals that most historical nuclei do not support lynx viable populations. Although we can not confirm extinction, the scenario is highly pessimistic. The Iberian lynx is presently in the verge of extinction. Intensive rabbit regression and massive habitat destruction are identified as the main causes of decline in recent decades. In the Portuguese lynx historical range, we could only identify significant areas suitable for lynx in the South-eastern part of the country, particularly in the Andalusian border, where we lack on recent evidence of lynx presence.<br /> Being aware of the considerable difficulties pointed above, the ICN developed a Conservation Action Plan for the Iberian lynx in order to provide a consistent and effective approach to conserve the species in Portuguese territory.<br /> This proposal describes guidance that retains future options, provides management consistent, offers necessary flexibility, in order to achieve the maximum goal of conserving the lynx in Portugal. Conservation measures have the goal of provide guiding lines for conservations agents in order to conduct actions that can positively affect lynx and/or to help avoid negative impacts through thoughtful planning of activities.<br /> The proposal of Action Plan will be applied in all the areas located in the lynx historical distribution geographic area, that present suitable characteristics for the species presence or landscape features that can be optimize for lynx survival and that can be relevant for the species life-cycle, independently of their protection status. The goal of this plan is to apply pre-release strategic reintroduction activities to make possible, in a long-term, the reintroduction of Iberian lynx, in order to assure the viability of the species, as a fundamental element of Mediterranean ecosystems. For achieving this goal it will be necessary to establish a suitable connection between ex-situ and in-situ actions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-162
Number of pages7
JournalWildlife Biology in Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

© 2005 Sarmento, Cruz, Monterroso, Tarroso, Ferreira, Negrões.


  • Iberian lynx
  • Portugal
  • action plan

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