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This Adorable Animal Has Been Saved From the Brink of Extinction

There’s good news this week from the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is no longer an endangered species, thanks to years of conservation efforts.

The Iberian lynx is a medium-sized wild cat that lives on the Iberian Peninsula (continental Spain and Portugal). IUCN says the Iberian lynx’s population has increased from 62 mature individuals in 2001 to 648 in 2022. Today, conservationists estimate the total population of Iberian lynx is over 2,000.

“Conservation efforts for this keystone species have focused on increasing the abundance of its prey, the Endangered European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), protecting and restoring Mediterranean scrub and forest habitat, and reducing deaths caused by human activity,” IUCN says in a press release. “Expanding the species’ genetic diversity through translocations and an ex-situ breeding programme has been key to increasing numbers.”

Upgraded From ‘Endangered’ to ‘Vulnerable’

Though the Iberian lynx is no longer endangered, it remains “vulnerable,” according to the IUCN’s conservation status rankings. Threats include fluctuations of the European rabbit population due to virus outbreaks, diseases spread by domestic cats, poaching, road kills, and habitat loss.

While there is still work to do to ensure a future for these adorable cats, Francisco Javier Salcedo Ortiz, coordinator of the LIFE Lynx-Connect project, calls this achievement “the greatest recovery of a cat species ever achieved through conservation.”

Similarly, Sarah Durant, a professor at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, says: “The significant recovery of the Iberian lynx demonstrates that even the most threatened species can be brought back from the brink of extinction through committed, science-based conservation action and provides hope for those working to protect wildlife across the globe.”

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