Two Iberian lynx, that were born last year at the Silves reproduction centre as part of an Iberian species recovery plan, were released into the wild last Friday, 21 June, in the Guarrizas valley.
Of the Iberian Lynx released into the wild so far this year, 11 were born at the Algarve-based CNRLI reproduction centre, in Silves.
This latest release, according to a statement from the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF), involved the help of the public and the presence of Portuguese nature conservation authorities, along with their counterparts from the Spanish regions of Extremadura and Andalucía.
It was a moment, the ICNF said, that “symbolised the programme’s contribution to preserving the species” as well as a nod to international and inter-institutional cooperation.
In total 11 of 19 cubs that have been reintroduced to their natural environment (six females and five males) under the reproduction programme were born in Silves, where they were also taught to hunt and survive in the wild.
Cubs Jazz and Joaninha were released into the wild last Friday, culminating a programme that began in March 2013 with the release of four other cubs born in Silves; two in Guarrizas and two in Guadalmellato. A further two Algarvian cubs were released in Guadalmellato in early June, followed by a fifth pair that were released on 18 June, also in Guarrizas.
Their first few days of freedom are monitored by radio and satellite.
The 2013 Spanish reintroduction plan foresaw the release of 19 cubs in an attempt to salvage the critically endangered Iberian Lynx population.
It is believed there are only a handful of Iberian Lynx living in their natural habitat, in southern Iberia, making them the world’s rarest cats and most endangered feline.
So far this year 17 cubs have been born at the CNRLI centre in Silves, 15 of which are currently also being taught to live in the wild, in preparation for their release next year.
The areas in which the young cats are let go are chosen due to their potential for letting the lynx population grow.
For this, local populations both in Spain and Portugal have been educated on the project’s aims with a view to giving the species its best shot at pulling back from the brink.