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Survivors - call of the wild


Leaving aside the human disasters of Andalucia for today's post, let's look at a fascinating, positive and potentially very exciting story about the region's fauna.
One of the most endangered felines in Spain - and the world - is the iberian lynx, the beautiful spotty wild cat, with its distinctive tufty ears. One of its main breeding grounds is Doñana National Park in Huelva province.
Soon, a group of lynxes born in captivity will be released into the wild - the ultimate aim for any endangered species. Those judged most likely to survive out of 16 lynx kittens (makes them sound too cuddly, doesn't it?) born this year - 10 males and six females - will be released from centres at Acebuche, in Doñana, and La Olivilla in Jaen.
The success of the breeding in captivity programme, which reached 25 animals this year, means that it is the first time this amount of lynxes will be released into the wild at once.
The lynxes are being set a series of tests, involving food, behaviour and recognising predators. Obviously, they're used to being fed and are less aware of dangers posed by other animals, but they are also less aware of how to behave in their own social groups, as well as being susceptible to disease as they have been exposed to far less than their wild counterparts. They will have to learn how to catch their own food - mostly rabbits (provided) - and to find water sources. The kits will be monitored on video 24 hours a day.
Those which pass the tests, and are therefore judged most likely to lead a successful independent life in the wild, will be released.
This is one TV reality show we would watch. Determination, adaptability, courage, initiative - those lynx will have to have all of these qualities in spades. I'd be glued to it (though they'd need David Attenborough to explain it all) - would you?
Blog published on 19 December 2011