Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wildlife News: Possible Iberian Lynx in Madrid?

More hope for the most endangered cat in the world:

DNA analysis of excrement found last October in an Area of Special Protection for Birds (ZEPA) between the Cofio and Alberche rivers in Spain, correspond to an Iberian Lynx.

Reseaerchers believe this confirms the existence of a lost population of lynx in the Sistema Central.

The only problem is that the infamous M-501 highway that will run from capital Madrid to Ávila, and whose construction has already been approved by the Madrid government, is set to pass straight through the ZEPA area. It will almost certainly put an end to this apparent refuge.

According to Professor of Ecology, Emilio Virgós, the analysis "leaves no doubts" that the threatened species is also present outside Andalusia.
In the light of the finding, the Central Government has asked Madrid to stop the construction of the M501 highway across the area.

The President of Madrid, Esperranza Aguirre - quite a character - claims an ecologist had conveniently left the excrement for the researchers to find and has promised to go ahead with the road anyway...

Professor Virgós still hopes that the discovery will be the "catalyst" for the implementation of a Plan of Recovery for the species in Madrid, where the Lynx was previously thought to be extinct.

The finding gives new hope for the survival of the Iberian Lynx, as fewer than 200 individuals remain in the wild and therefore is considered by the IUCN to be the most endangered cat species worldwide.

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