Nature Ramble

I’m a day late. Yesterday was family BBQ day and I didn’t get all my posting done.

Two stories today. One in Spain and the other in Scotland, connected

Lynx and Scottish wildcats.

How Spain saved the lynx

Spain’s impressive effort to save the lynx is an example to follow, but the UK needs to act swiftly

An Iberian lynx at a nature reserve in Spain. Photograph: Victor Fraile/Reuters/Corbis

If Scotland needs a lesson on how to save an endangered feline, it need only look to the little town of Santa Elena, in Andalucía, Spain. Biologists there have overseen a remarkable conservation enterprise: the Olivilla captive breeding centre for the Iberian lynx. Dozens of these distinctive, beautiful creatures have been bred here, watched over by staff working in a control room that has enough television monitors to do justice to a particle accelerator. This is cat care at its most sophisticated.

Adult lynxes, which are about a metre long and weigh around 10kg – twice the size of a wildcat – have been reintroduced to the surrounding hills. Ten years ago, there were fewer than 100 Iberian lynxes left on the planet. Habitat destruction, loss of prey and indiscriminate trapping by landowners was propelling Lynx pardinus towards extinction. Today there are at least 300 of them, and their numbers continue to rise. Call it the Lynx effect.

The implication is clear. Endangered felines can be saved – although we should be under no illusions about the cost involved. As lynx conservationists explained during my visit to Santa Elena, around £30m was spent setting up the project, money raised mostly by the Andalucían regional government, and which funds captive breeding and also pays for teams of energetic young conservationists to trap and release animals in areas around the town.

Read more: The Guardian

Extinction by stealth: how long can the Scottish wildcat survive?

The Scottish government has launched a £2m drive to save a unique species – but the plan is mere camouflage, say experts who fear the pure-bred animal’s days are numbered

The Scottish wildcat. There may be just 35 pure-bred animals in the wild. Photograph: David Tipling/Alamy

Are these the final few days of the Scottish wildcat, currently numbering perhaps as few as 35 scattered beasts? That is the fear of some supporters of Scotland’s most vivid species, and it is leading to an almighty row over a creature that has graced the Highlands for around 10,000 years. The argument relates to a deceptively simple question: when is a wildcat not a wildcat?

The wildcat’s imminent extinction may have been camouflaged from our consciousness by the existence of a counterfeit cat – a feline facsimile that looks like a wildcat but whose genealogy is far from pure. Staring implacably from the midst of rock and heather it will do for the postcards and tea-towels. And if it looks like a wildcat, then why should the rest of us worry about its lineage?

Read more: The Guardian

 

 

 

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Costly exercise, but worthy cause.

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