the

How this Wild Cat is Coming Back from Extinction

these rangers in southern spain

just trapped one of the world's rarest

cats

there are only a couple of hundred of

them left in the wild

and this one will be a vital key to

their survival

this is the sierra morena in northern

andalusia a mountain range that forms a

clustered system of natural parks

stretching over 450 kilometers across

the peninsula

its landscape is unique on our planet

the mediterranean de essa is

characterized by vegetation and wildlife

adapted to an extreme climate with long

dry summers

but which magically blossoms during the

short spring season

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it's home to an incredible biodiversity

with large herds of red deer

iberian ibex

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eagle owls

and griffin vultures

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but the most distinctive yet rare

inhabitant of the spanish de essa

is the iberian lynx this lynx

is one third smaller than the european

links

separated by the glaciers in the

pyrenees that formed during the ice ages

link species adapted to different

climates with the iberian peninsula

offering an abundance of much smaller

prey

so instead of red deer the iberian lynx

mainly has rabbits on its menu

rabbits used to be plentiful all over

the peninsula

in fact the name spain comes from the

word hispania

meaning rabbit land

but in the mid 20th century a viral

disease from south america was

introduced to europe

and spread rapidly across the country

cutting rabbit numbers drastically

diseases are still one of the major

impediments to the recovery of iberia's

rabbit population

leaving the lynx in trouble

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is an extremely vulnerable species it's

one of those rare cases in nature which

depend on a

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the alarming fact is that in rabbit land

today

there aren't enough rabbits to support

even a small population of predators

and it's not just the iberian lynx

that's in trouble it's the entire

iberian biosphere

this is why artificial rabbit burrows

have been constructed throughout the

sierra morena

they're stocked and restocked with tens

of thousands of wild rabbits

all these rabbits have to be trapped on

a few ranches where there's a sufficient

number of wild rabbits

because domestic ones wouldn't survive

in the wild

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but what happened to the captured lynx

and why would rangers take it out of the

wild

the iberian linx xc2 breeding program is

one of four breeding stations in spain

it can hold about 50 individuals each

one living in quarantine

it was founded at a point where numbers

and hopes for the species were

critically low

with only about 100 individuals

restricted to two small pockets

in southern spain the breeding program

was initially an emergency strategy

driven by uncertainty but it's become a

cornerstone of the lynx's survival

here the cats are monitored 24 7.

in order to avoid learning to trust us

their contact with humans is restricted

to an absolute minimum

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scenarios as you would find them in the

wild are recreated to teach them to hunt

their own prey

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wild links are also brought here for

medical and genetic inspections

which are important for constant data

updates on the health of wild

populations

but most importantly they play a key

role in supporting the breeding program

by promoting genetic exchange between

the small and isolated populations

and avoiding inbreeding in captivity

separated from humans

lynx mothers can prepare their offspring

teaching them how to hunt and survive in

the wild

these two young ones still have a lot to

learn before they're ready

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but when they are it's time for them to

leave the breeding station for good

to live in their natural habitat

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as the links have been progressively

released into the wild

the population has been able to recover

from just two isolated pockets at the

turn of the millennium

to the creation of six further pockets

today

but there's still a major issue to

overcome

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intense land use and massive farms have

led to the loss of their preferred

habitat

the mediterranean shrubland of the de

esa has been turned into giant

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[Applause]

monocultures

additionally it's hard for the species

to spread as their potential habitat is

largely fragmented by the spanish and

portuguese road networks

roadkills are responsible for more than

half of lynx fatalities today

and the chief cause of non-natural

deaths is proving difficult to resolve

as roads cross the animals territories

however there are solutions out there

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wildlife surpasses and underpasses are

being developed

but the number of these still has to be

increased drastically for the iberian

lynx to be able to move freely

around its habitat

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still all things considered the

conservation of the iberian links is a

success story

growing numbers in more and more areas

give hope that spain's iconic wildcat

will one day be able to thrive without

the help of humans

hi there i'm philip video producer here

at terra mata if you like this video you

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