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Experimental release of an Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus)

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Abstract

Reintroduction to the wild of threatened species has become a modern additional justification for captive propagation. This conservation procedure is costly, and both economic resources and the absence of optimal conditions in the field limit the IUCN recommendations for reintroduction to a small proportion of potential candidate species. Furthermore reintroduction attempts often fail. In carnivores, reintroduction failure is attributed to unsuitable adaptation in the field by captive-reared animals, due to their lack of hunting skills, their tendency to leave the target area, their inadequate interaction with conspecifics or their excessive confidence in humans. This list of causes is based on very few studies of carnivore adaptation after reintroduction. In very rare and endangered species, monitoring individual case-histories is the only way to evaluate reintroduction success. We report a successful experimental release of an Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) which grew up in captivity. Careful feeding-training and avoidance of human contact during the captive phase, as well as good habitat quality and correct interaction with other wild lynx in the release site, seem to account for the observed success. Permanence of the lynx within the release area might be related to the availability of territory vacancies in the receiving population. Our results allow some optimism for future reintroductions of this endangered species in areas where it has become extinct recently.

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Rodriguez, A., Barrios, L. & Delibes, M. Experimental release of an Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). Biodivers Conserv 4, 382–394 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00058423

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