President of the Andalusian regional government, Juanma Moreno, has said that the native Iberian lynx could be taken off the list of species in danger of extinction. He was speaking on Wednesday 15 February during the release of an Iberian lynx on the Fuenreal Alto estate in Almodóvar del Río (Cordoba), as part of the 'Lynxconnect' Life Programme.
Moreno said that the “challenge" now in Andalucía is for the lynx to go "from being an endangered species, as it is at present, to being a vulnerable species", and to make sure that the population is "genetically viable".
Moreno explained during a press conference that the Life Programme "to date has focused above all on strengthening existing populations and creating new ones". He went on to say, "We are going further and for the last two and a half years we have also looked at introducing groups of lynx that already exist, to facilitate the mixing of genes.”
Moreno explained that the Almodóvar estate was chosen to release a young male called Tempul, because of the abundance of rabbits in the area, which are his main food source, as well as the presence of a female called Sandía. It is hoped that they will go on to breed within the framework of the project.
The main five-year objective of the project is to achieve "a self-sustaining and genetically viable Iberian lynx population in Andalucía", as the aim is to "consolidate the lynx populations that already exist in Andalucía, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and in Portugal."
Moreno added that the programme is hoping to start two more groups, one in Murcia and another in Sierra Arana (Granada province). The Junta de Andalucía is talking to its partners in Murcia “to transfer four lynxes to that area".
According to Moreno, so far 133 Iberian lynx have been released through the programme, of which 98 have come from breeding centres.
"Andalucía has a challenge ahead of it. It is a vulnerable region in terms of environmental and climate change and consolidating our environment, our way of life and the quality of nature, requires a major effort,” Moreno stressed, adding that Andalucía has one of the highest percentage of protected natural areas in Europe.
"Andalucía is going to be an example, because it already is, for the rest of Europe in terms of sustainability and the fight against climate change,” he concluded, adding that the release of the Iberian lynx on Wednesday forms part of this objective.
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