AID is a minor campaign... fighting for a major cause: the survival
of a species.
LYNX AID is the campaign founded by ©Catscraze – a kinda
organization for fans of the animal world – to raise money for
the conservation of the most endangered feline on the planet, the Iberian
Lynx. Also the most endangered carnivore in Europe and one of the rarest
mammals in the world, Spain and Portugal's only native big cat could
very soon disappear forever, if not enough is done to stop its steep
Once found throughout the
Iberian Peninsula, as far as the south of France, the numbers of this
rare and beautiful feline have dropped dramatically, leaving the current
population at around 100 individuals, divided into two main breeding
populations in the south of Spain. Breeding centers have been working
on helping the animals multiply to be later let out in the wild, and
the Iberian lynx is finally starting to come to the public's attention.
But it is not nearly enough.
Though hunting lynx is illegal, it sometimes occurs, often as a consequence
of carelessness: lynx are shot at if thought to be deer or as pests,
get caught in traps set for rabbits, etc. Plus, human infrastructures
and agriculture are a serious interference in the animals' normal way
of life, as roads divide lynx territory and must be crossed –
often unsuccessfully – to obtain sufficient food or to reproduce;
agriculture and building steals huge amounts of forest, scrub and meadow
where the Iberian lynx live, breed and hunt.
However, one of the most important factors causing the lynx's sharp
decline is decaying rabbit populations. Last century, the outbreak of
myxomatosis killed astronomical amounts of rabbits, the basis of the
Iberian lynx's and many other Iberian animals' diets. The disease originated
in France in the fifties, where a farmer used it to try to protect his
crops, and within a year had reached Spain and had wiped out most of
the country's rabbits, and the animals that depended on them. When the
rabbit was just recovering, the eighties saw the apearance of VHD, a
virus that had spread from China a few years before and had much the
same effect as myxomatosis.
Though the death rate caused by both diseases has dropped, they do continue
to kill. The rabbits are being helped along to keep populations up,
but are lacking in the north of the peninsula. Though hunting is restricted
and supposedly controlled, illegal hunting sometimes kills rabbits,
Ironically, the presence of Iberian lynx benefits rabbits. Though, of
course, they eat them, keeping lynx numbers high keeps generalist predator's
numbers from getting too high, which would result in the over-hunting
of rabbits. And although many, many species depend on the rabbit, none
except the Iberian lynx and the now-recovering Spanish Imperial Eagle
depend so heavily on it.
Conserving the Iberian lynx doesn't just mean the survival of its kind,
but that of many other species of animals and plants.
If rabbits – the key link between Spain and Portugal's ecosystem's
natural chain – benefit, inevitably, everything and everyone else
will benefit. Lynxes, wolves and bears and many others benefit, even
humanity benefits: conserving forests means cleaner air, more natural
spaces and a clearer conscience.
prevent humanity from causing the first extinction of a feline species
since the disappearance of the sabre-tooth cats.