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The operation to rescue the lynx from the tree in an urban area of Úbeda (Jaén province). Jesús JIménez
Nature

Experts called in to rescue endangered Iberian lynx wild cat from a tree in Andalucía

Although "he is recovering well", Sotillo's stress levels must be lowered to decide what to do next before he is returned to the wild

Europa Press

Jaén

Tuesday, 22 August 2023, 18:48

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The Iberian lynx safely rescued last week from a tree in the town of Úbeda in the Jaén province of Andalucía is Sotillo and he was released last year in Sierra Arana, in the municipality of Iznalloz, in the Montes de Granada region, as part of the Life LynxConnect programme.

This has been revealed by Junta de Andalucía sources, after technicians analysed the radio tag carried by the wild cat, which is still recovering from his ordeal in the Iberian lynx breeding centre at La Olivilla, in the Despeñaperros Natural Park.

At the facilities located in the town of Santa Elena, in Jaén, professionals are also monitoring its condition, as, although "it is well", they must "reduce its level of stress" in order to decide on the next steps to take until it is returned to the wild.

"The fact that he climbed the tree is a common reaction when they are frightened. But, from the point of view of the lynx population study, it shows something very important and that is that two lynx population areas are being connected," explained the regional government.

These are "already consolidated" in Sierra Morena Oriental - in the province of Jaén, in the area of the Guarrizas river, Vilches, La Carolina, near Úbeda - and "the one that is being created in Sierra Arana", in the area of Iznalloz.

The latter is "a relatively new reintroduction area, where lynx have been strategically released since the end of 2022". Specifically, 14 have been released: six males, seven females and a cub from one of the females.

Life LynxConnect programme

Sotillo is one of the specimens introduced in Sierra Arana as part of Life LynxConnect, a programme that also seeks to interconnect the different lynx population centres in Andalucía, Extremadura and Portugal and which is reflected, accurately, with its appearance last week in Úbeda.

The lynx - born in a breeding centre and one of the five released in Iznalloz on 19 December 2022 - had already been seen on Thursday in the area near the cemetery in Ubetza. The town council notified the regional Ministry of Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy, followed its trail and, once it was confirmed that it had left the town centre towards the open countryside, this action was ended

However, on Friday it appeared perched in the tree of a house in Colonia de San Rafael. For this reason, and given the protection of this endangered species, the Junta de Andalucía set up a rescue operation with members of a specialist team.

These experts in lynx conservation in the region travelled to the site, which was cordoned off due to the "stress" that the specimen could suffer, and where other services such as Local Police and fire brigade were also present.

Initially, an attempt was made to get it down from the tree by placing a trap with live rabbits, while awaiting the arrival of a veterinarian from Huelva. The professional, who is also part of the lynx protection programme, finally used a tranquiliser dart to be able to rescue him safely and transfer him to the La Olivilla Iberian lynx breeding centre.

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