The future looks bright for the Iberian Lynx

Things do change

Fifteen years ago less than 100 Iberian Lynx remained in the wild. Back in those days the situation really looked bad and it was feared they were heading for extinction. Huge efforts were made by conservationist with generous funding support from the European Union (EU) to save the species. Funding the LifeLincé projects with EU money definitely helped to turn around the fortunes of the species: over the years lynx breeding stations were set up along with a programme of breeding and releasing rabbits into areas occupied by lynx as a supplementary food source. Raising awareness of the cat with the public resulted in a higher respect for the animals along with rewilding some areas by introducing lynx into areas where they formerly occurred. By 2020 the number of lynx in the wild was approxiamately 800. That is 300 more than the critical number of 500 needed to be a self sustainable, viable, population. Yes, there is a future again for these beauties!

The African way: artificial water pools built to lure in the lynx

New in recent years is the option of photographing wild lynx from hides. Over the past couple of years we have visited four private estates hosting lynx on their property. They all offer hides where you can watch or photograph lynx regardless of whether you are a photographer or just happy watching the animals. Although people shouldn’t take things for granted, as there are no guarantees, these hides give some fabulous and very close views of the lynx. Given the high chance of close views it is an unforgettable experience for everyone.

But of course you might prefer to just watch the natural way by using spotting scopes from a vantage point. Being seated in a hide is all about patience, persistence and luck! Sometimes the lynx occur straight away, sometimes it takes a long wait and quite a few sessions or you will succeed after just a couple of sessions! Sometimes they don’t even show up at all!

A big advantage of not being seen in a hide is the different species of birds seen typical for Southern Europe. Really great to see them coming in to drink from the same artificial water pools built to lure in the lynx.

Equal with Bengal Tigers using abandoned temples in National Parks of India

Rather astonishing is that on one of the private properties hosting Iberian Lynx, one female in particular uses an abandoned cattle barn as her denning site. Besides a litter of three kittens from this year, she also tolerates the presence of her last year’s offspring in the same barn.

As the barn is situated on a small hill, the window openings are an excellent place to overview the surrounding territory. Moreover, early in the season the windows are used as an ideal sunbathing spot and in the summer the lynx take advantage of the afternoon shadow and coolness offered by the windows.

So, from the afternoon onwards, lynx of three different generations can be seen quite easily laying down or sitting on their haunches in the open windows of the barn. Given the fact that you have to drive past the barn to get to the hide the lynx are approachable quite easily with a vehicle.

Whilst we were on the property we managed 3 out of 4 times to see the lynx lounging in the window openings while passing the barn on route from one area to another photography hide.

Although it might feel a bit like a zoo at times the animals are definitely wild, the first two individual females colonised the area back in 2013 after migrating all the way from the Sierra Andujar cordillera. As rabbits are abundant in the area it makes for an easy living for the Lynx.

A big thanks to the following people regarding their contribution to this EB5 news item: John Wright, Alain Melis and Thomas Geelen.