By Elexis M. Kabbelliya
The Algarve Tiger also known as the Iberian lynx is one of the more uncommon mammals. The Iberian lynx is an immensely endangered cat species, due to the vast low number still existing today. Through several forms of research and studies performed, researchers have been able to obtain many leading causes of the dramatic disappearance of the lynx.
Normally the lynx preferred to live in woodland or dense scrub areas, which they tend to seek for shelter. Open pastures serve as prime hunting grounds for the lynx as well. While the lynx conducts most hunting during the day, these animals are predominately nocturnal. Both male and female lynx are elite hunters and excellent tree climbers.
On the average a female lynx can weigh up to 20.5 lbs., and the males range from 28.2 lbs. to 59 lbs. Female lynx reach their peak of maturity at a rather young state, and can reproduce as early as their first year. The female lynx will only reproduce, provided the availability of safe and unconquered territory. In general both male and female lynx do not overlap with the ranges of their territory, however males tend to secure the areas of multiple females.
Females tend to have seasons of birth periods, and have their offspring from March through September, reaching a peak during March through April. The litter of a female lynx is normally 2 to 3 young and at the most 5. In general 1 to 2 of the litter actually survive. The lynx offspring tend to stay with the mother until her next mating season the following winter.
A lynx diet is minimal diversity, being that 93% of their diet is that of rabbits. On average they eat one rabbit a day to maintain their energy. Sometimes rabbits are not always available, and in this situation a red deer fawn or duck is considered fulfilling. Lynx do not feast on their catch at the point of capture, the meal is dragged sufficient distance and then devoured. An interesting fact about the lynx is the burring process of the remains of their prey after they are done.
While the facts remain that the Iberian lynx prove to be very interesting and unique mammals, they have unfortunately faced many trying times. Throughout these trying times, the lynx have done their best to maintain their generation, but have fallen short. As the years have past, the Iberian lynx sadly have only accomplished a decrease in their species. One such article goes on to tell of the struggles of these magnificent creatures, titled “The Algarve Tiber”, by Eduardo Gonfalves.
Gonfalves stated several different reasons in his article to why the lynx have become the most endangered cat species. Although some of these reasons are considered major causes over others, every reason has contributed to the decline. Reasons ranging from a decline in their major food source, loss of habitat, hunters, accidental deaths, poison, disease, and even road kill.
The lynx prime prey; the rabbit was first confronted with troubles of its own when vegetation started being destroyed. The land that was once rich in rabbits, no longer exists due to the development of roads and other projects. It did not end here for rabbits, it was said that a French doctor had more than his share of rabbits eating at his vegetation, so he imported a deadly disease called Mixomatosis from Australia to rid of them. This imported disease wiped out entire rabbit populations, which led to many lynx starving to death. To make matters worse, a virus was introduces in the late 1980’s, which nearly finished off the remaining rabbits. Aside from rabbits as a food source, problems only continued with the loss of habitat for lynx.
Lynx started the loss of their habitat by the simple destroying of vegetation. Much of the land in which lynx used to call home is now a highway or some urban development. Some of the land was used for intensive agriculture, such the growing of strawberries and trees to supply paper. A direct result of these Australian trees is a lifeless environment, due to soil erosion and problems with water. In the creation of the roads and highways is probably were the few road kill incidents occurred. Once again problems went from one to the next with the loss of habitat to hunters.
Lynx have also been victims of hunters. Some of these hunters may have been after the fur of a lynx, and others may have been hunting for the sport. Although the hunting of lynx became illegal, there have been some unbearable findings. There was evidence discovered of lynx having been shot at close ranges, implying a deliberant death. However there were accidental deaths, but deaths non-the less. A number of lynx became victims of gin traps and poison. Given, these traps and poisons were not intended for the lynx; tragically neither of these had any mercy on their victims. To wrap up the previous problems of the lynx, problems worsened as with diseases.
Due to the low numbers of lynx, many were forced to breed with close relatives, which introduced many defects in the gene pool. The offspring began to suffer, because this type of breeding made fertility more susceptible to diseases. It was reported that some lynx were killed from a diseases called Bovine TB, and damaged sperm was found in males.
Gonfalves work was definitely supportive of many points of theory. Many times he mentioned problems lynx developed in their gene pools, which maintained many key themes of class lectures. For example, after obsessive breeding with close relatives, the reproduction of melanistic lynxes occurred. Melanistic is when the coat of a lynx comes out black instead of regular patterns. Personally, I felt that the actual reproduction of melanistic lynx is unfortunate, however it was the most interesting fact of the article.
Gonfalves, Eduardo.The Algarve Tiger.Ecologist.Feb.2002.Vol.32.Pg.52.
Guardian Unlimited.Lynx on the
Massicot, Paul.Animal Info-Iberian
Vista Iberica Publications.Protecting the Iberian