BARCELONA – An Iberian lynx who turned up in a cherry grove near the northeastern Spanish city of Barcelona, having crossed rivers, mountains and highways in an epic journey that began in Portugal, has been safely captured and was deemed to be in perfect health, environmentalists said Thursday.
This highly endangered and strictly protected species, which leads a largely solitary life, had not been seen in the Catalonia region of Spain since the early 20th century, when the animal was present throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula.
Miguel Ángel Simón, director of the European Union’s Life Project for Iberian lynx told a press conference in Barcelona that the 14-kilo (30-pound) animal had installed itself in a wooded area in the Barcelona metropolitan area but would often venture out to hunt in a nearby cherry grove, where environmentalists decided to place traps baited with rabbits, the feline’s favorite prey.
This specimen, known as Litio, was released in Portugal in 2016 as part of a program to regenerate population figures, which remain precariously low at around 400 wild individuals split into scattered, isolated subpopulations concentrated around the south in Andalusia, Extremadura and Castile-La Mancha.
The conservationists at the Life foundation said Litio had been taken from a wildlife center near Barcelona to one near Granada ahead of its re-release later this month either in Andalusia or back to Portugal.