The LIFE-lince project:
“Conservation and reintroduction of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) in Andalusia”
As described in the threats section, the main causes of the decline of Iberian lynx in the past were the decline in rabbit populations, habitat destruction and non-natural mortality. The collapse of rabbit populations, and secondarily habitat destruction, have caused a large decrease in the carrying capacity of the environment in most of the historic range of lynx, ie in an area where ten lynxes could live in the past, only one individual could live nowadays. Also, the drastic population reduction occurred in the past three decades has led, inevitably, to a significant decrease of the genetic diversity of the species, which can be a limiting factor in its conservation. An increase in the prevalence of diseases on the population has also been recently detected, possibly associated with the low genetic diversity. Finally, one of the major handicaps in the Iberian lynx conservation is that all its effectives are located in only two populations, since the risk of extinction by a random process is very high.
In the LIFE-Lince project, we are carrying out different actions designed to minimize both threats and the limiting factors in the Iberian lynx conservation. The ultimate goal of the project is to reduce the risk of extinction increasing both population size and the number of populations. Thus, the actions developed in the project are:
A) Increase population size:
A.1 Actions aimed to increase the carrying capacity of the environment
• Recovery of rabbits: habitat management / rabbit restocking
• Supplementary feeding
• Prevent the continued destruction of habitat of the Iberian lynx: Awareness
A.2 Actions aimed to reduce mortality
• Reducing the rate of road kills: Infrastructure permeabilization
• Reducing the rate of poaching: Surveillance / Awareness
• Reducing the impact of diseases: Sanitary control
• Increased genetic diversity: Genetic reinforcement of the Doñana-Aljarafe population.
B) Increase the number of populations:
• Creation of new nuclei: Reintroduction. In reintroduction areas all actions aimed at increasing the population size are also carried out as described above.
To perform a correct implementation and a proper evaluation of the activities of the LIFE-lince, it is necessary to conduct routine monitoring of populations of both Iberian lynx and wild rabbit.
Scheme of the actions developed in the LIFE-lince project (in green)