The first release into the wild in Portugal of an Iberian lynx born in captivity is to take place in the first half of 2014, probably in the Alentejo region, marking the reintroduction of the species after its effective extinction in the country, the government said late last week.
As part of a Portuguese-Spanish conservation programme, “we are studying different locations to work out which will be best to release the Iberian lynx in Portugal in the first half of 2014,” the secretary of state for planning and nature conser-vation, Miguel Castro Neto, told Lusa News Agency.
This would, he noted, be the first time that a lynx born in captivity had ever been released into the wild in Portugal.
Neto was speaking in a break from an international seminar on the wild rabbit - the lynx’s preferred diet - and on the Iberian lynx, which took place until last Friday in the Alentejo.
There is a need, the secretary of state noted, to assure an area with sufficient space and rabbits in which to release the lynx. The most likely, he said, is the Special Protection Area of Mourão/Moura/Barrancos, which he described as an area where the species was historically found and with reasonable conditions to reintroduce the species.
“It has not yet definitely been decided the number of animals that will be released,” he said.
There are breeding centres for the Iberian lynx in the Algarve and in Andalusia.
According to the Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests, so far this year 19 lynxes have been released into the wild in Andalusia. All were born in captivity in Portugal and Spain, and trained in hunting and survival techniques so that t