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Endangered lynxes ‘safe in Spain’ after fire evacuation and spending night in school pavilion

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 16-08-2018 10:10:00 · 0 Comments

After being evacuated from the Silves reproduction centre last week when the massive Monchique fire closed in, 29 Iberian lynxes have arrived “safe and well” at temporary accommodation in Spain, according to a spokesperson for the Environment Ministry.

Endangered lynxes ‘safe in Spain’ after fire evacuation and spending night in school pavilion

In comments to The Portugal News, Paulo Chitas, deputy secretary for the Environment Minister, said an “emergency evacuation plan” was activated last Wednesday when the wildfire spread from Monchique into the neighbouring municipalities of Portimão and Silves, and encroached on the CNRLI - National Iberian Lynx Reproduction Centre.
The breeding centre is located near the village of Vale Fuzeiros, approximately 14kms north of the city of Silves, on a hillside above the Arade River close to the Funcho Dam, an area that last week’s massive wildfire swept through.
The centre is closed to the public, but can be viewed from a hillside viewing platform overlooking the complex.
“As a prevention, the 29 animals were evacuated and relocated to [partner centres in] Spain, which made themselves immediately available to help”, Mr. Chitas said, adding: “It was a sensible move as the centre was in fact hit by the fire; not the main buildings, but around some enclosures”.
He said the evacuation was carried out in collaboration with “the best experts in Portugal in the matter” working with “biologists and the military, for safety reasons”, as transporting 29 endangered lynxes to Spain is a “logistically complicated operation”.
Before being transported across the border the lynxes spent a night in a pavilion at a school in the neighbouring municipality of Lagoa.
Lagoa council confirmed: “Conditions were created in the sports pavilion of EB 2,3 Jacinto Correia School to house the Iberian lynx community for 24 hours until its transfer to Spain”.
Paulo Chitas said the animals are now in Spain and arrived “all in good health”.
A survey of the damage to the CNRLI centre has been carried out this week with a view to drawing up a recovery plan, and to see when the endangered big cats will be able to return to the Algarve.
The once critically-endangered Iberian lynx, which is only just teetering back from the very brink of extinction, is native to Portugal and Spain and has been subject to vigorous conservation efforts in both countries since 2002.
The species was recently downgraded from critically-endangered to endangered, and, thanks to captive breeding and release efforts, there is an expanding, albeit small community of the cats living in the wild in Portugal.
The reintroduction of the lynx in Portugal is part of the transnational LIFE Iberlince project which hopes to establish stable, viable populations across the Iberian Peninsula.
It was announced in June that the Iberian lynx reproduction centre in Silves in the Algarve, is to be expanded, in a €551,000 project. So far 103 cubs have been born at the centre, 23 of which have died.
It has been estimated that as many as 20 kittens could have been born in three litters in the wild during the first half of this year.

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Edition 1500
10 November 2018
Edition: 1500

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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