This remarkable sighting of an Iberian lynx—an endangered species of which there were fewer than 100 left as of 2002 because of overhunting, habitat loss, vehicle strikes and the decline of its main food source, European rabbits—was shared with us by Peggy and Marc Faucher. “Here are photos my husband, Marc, took yesterday of an Iberian lynx in the Sierra Andujar Mountains of southwestern Spain," writes Peggy. "After nearly 40 hours of our searching, this male appeared out of nowhere about 30 feet from us as we were walking down a dirt road. We observed him for about three minutes before he disappeared into a culvert under the road. He reappeared briefly on the other side but vanished into the thick bushes.
"Iberian lynx are found only in Spain and Portugal. They're one of the rarest cats in the world. [Thanks to extensive conservation efforts] their number has grown to about 500 individuals. Their recovery is very much linked to a healthy rabbit population. In recent years European rabbits have been decimated by diseases such as Myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease. Efforts are underway to eradicate these diseases to increase the number of European rabbits.
"Now the biggest threat to the Lynx is traffic mortalities. Last year alone 58 lynx were killed. While in Spain we did see underpasses being built so that lynx and other wildlife can safely cross the road.”
Many thanks to Peggy and Marc for giving us a chance to see a remarkable cat that's still struggling to survive but is at least doing better than it was at the start of the 21st century. Thanks too to all of those who are working to help it. —Craig Neff and Pamelia Markwood