Animal Conservation, 11(4):297-305, 2008. Paper abstract bibtex
The Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus has suffered a dramatic reduction in its range throughout the Iberian Peninsula and at present is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. The latest studies report that, out of the 48 breeding areas that existed in 1990, only two populations are left in southern Spain. As a consequence, some of the formerly largest populations, such as Montes de Toledo (central Spain), are to all intents and purposes regarded as extinct. To determine the current distribution of Iberian lynx outside the two recognized populations, we surveyed five different areas where the species is considered extinct and collected 581 faeces for the genetic identification of the species. We identified 18 samples as belonging to Iberian lynx in four out of the five areas studied, providing clear evidence for the presence of lynx in central Spain. In some areas the species was detected repeatedly at different localities and on different dates, indicating a regular occurrence of an unknown number of individuals. The conservation implications of these results are discussed in terms of the genetic importance of the individuals found and future reintroductions of the species from an ongoing captive-breeding programme.