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One of the rarest cats in the world is no longer endangered – Environmental Conservation Agency

One of the rarest cats in the world is no longer endangered – Environmental Conservation Agency

Image source, Getty Images

  • author, Malo Corcino
  • Role, BBC News

One of the world’s rarest cats, the Iberian lynx, is no longer classified as critically endangered, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

On Thursday, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which classifies species according to the level of threat they face on the “Red List”, downgraded the Iberian lynx from “endangered” to “vulnerable” after a significant increase in its numbers.

Its population has increased from 62 mature individuals in 2001 to 648 in 2022. While the combined population of juvenile and mature lynxes is now estimated at more than 2,000, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reports.

As the name suggests, the wild cat species calls the Iberian region – Spain and Portugal – its home.

Wild cats were once common throughout the Iberian Peninsula, but since the 1960s their numbers have declined dramatically.

Habitat loss, poaching and road accidents have helped push this species to the brink of extinction.

And here the cat returns.

This increase is largely due to conservation efforts focused on increasing the abundance of its main food source, the also endangered wild rabbit, known as the European rabbit.

Programs to release hundreds of captive lynxes and restore shrubs and forests have also played an important role in ensuring that lynxes are not endangered.

Ortiz said there is still “a lot of work to do” to ensure the animals survive and the species can recover.

“Looking to the future, there are plans to reintroduce the Iberian lynx to new sites in central and northern Spain,” he added.

The area these species occupy is now much larger, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, jumping from 449 square kilometers (173 square miles) in 2005 to 3,320 square kilometers today.

But the Conservation Agency warned against complacency, saying gains could be reversed. Threats include diseases affecting domestic cats and the wild rabbits that feed on them, as well as poaching and road killing.

Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has developed into the world’s most comprehensive source of information on the global conservation status of animal, fungal and plant species.

Image source, Getty Images