Wednesday, February 3, 2010

'Hook,' Founder Father of the Captive Iberian Lynx Population Dies

'Hook,' Founder Father of the Captive Iberian Lynx Population Dies

Very sadly, 'Hook'  the founder male of Conservation Captive Breeding Program of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) in Andalusia, died on Monday at the center of La Olivilla, Sierra Morena (Jaén), of chronic kidney disease.

'Hook' was born in 2000 and was father of 11 offspring. Captured in 2003 he was one of the first stud animals and remained actively within the programme until 2008, after which he was transferred to the Olivilla.

After pairing up with 'Saliège', 'Hook' became the father of a litter of three Iberian lynx. These were the first to be born into the captive breeding programme on 28 March 2005. During his time as stud he sired eleven cubs in four litters. He was retired after failing to mate successfully with two other females.

Breeding of the Iberian Lynx is never easy with only one litter produced a year. There will normally be between one and three cubs in a litter. In the wild the third cub rarely survives.
The population of Iberian Lynx in the wild of Spain and Portugal was estimated to be around 100 in 2003. This made it the most threatened wild cat species in the world along with being one of the rarest mammals. The population was on the verge of extinction and classed as 'critically endangered'. Coupled with lack of available food, habitat destruction and persecution the future did not look promising. Loss of the Iberian Lynx would make it the first wild cat extinction in two thousand years.

The success of the programme meant that by 2009 there were 60 animals. This was due to the combined efforts of the various holders of this impressive feline predator. With added protection in the wild it would appear that the future of the species is assured for the moment.

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