Spanish Lynx An Endangered Feline Species
The Iberian, or Spanish lynx is the most endangered feline species in the world. Their numbers have decreased significantly due to real estate development, diseased prey, poaching, road casualties, and tree mono-cultivation. There are an estimated 100 lynxes left in the wild. If this species were to become extinct, they would be the first species of cat to become extinct since the Smilodon, or saber-toothed cat, 10,000 years ago. The lynx and their habitats are now protected and it is illegal to hunt these beautiful felines.
This species prefers habitats of open grassland with dense shrubs. The lynx is now only found in small areas across Spain. Where they once inhabited the Iberian Peninsula, their breeding grounds have now dwindled to two confirmed areas of Andalusia.
The Spanish lynx is one of the smaller feline species. It has a light gray or brownish-yellow coat along with leopard like spots. This species has two sets of whiskers located on the ears and chin used to sense out it's prey. They also have tufts of hair on its ears and the edges of their feet are covered in a thick coat of fur. The hair on their ears enable them to sense sources of sound, and the fur on their feet helps them to sneak silently through snow in order to hunt.
This majestic feline stands 24-28 inches at it's shoulder. The males can weigh anywhere from 28lbs (12.9kg) to 59lbs (26.8kg), and the females can weigh anywhere from 28lbs (12.9kg) to 21lbs (9.4kg). They hunt smaller animals including rabbits, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and birds around twilight. They typically hunt alone and can have territories up to 62 miles (100km). The estimated lifespan in the wild is 13 years. Females normally give birth to two or three cubs at a time. The cubs become independent between 7 and 10 months, but remain with their mother until they are 20 months old. Cubs become violent towards one another between 30 and 60 days after being born. It is unknown as to why the cubs become violent. The speculated causes are the hormone changes that come when the cubs switch from nursing to meat, and the concept of “Survival of the fittest”. Either way, the cubs will frequently kill their siblings in a brutal battle during this time period.
Different measures are being taken in order to preserve this incredible species. These measures range from conservations to breeding programs. Conservations are attempting to breed more lynxes, as well as their main prey, rabbits; and providing a safe habitat for them. Due to the violent reactions of the cubs, when cubs are born, they are separated until the 60 day mark in order to ensure the best survival rate of these lynxes. There are many different ways that we can help preserve these beautiful felines. There are online petitions you can sign, lobby letters you can write, and donations you can make to the different conservations dedicated to helping the Spanish Lynx. The most popular conservation for the Spanish Lynx is SOS Lynx, based in Portugal. You can visit their website at www.soslynx.org for more information on these majestic creatures and what you can do in order for them to have the best chance possible for their survival.