Conservationist groups are reporting that the Iberian Lynx, world’s top endangered feline species, is facing a new challenge, Chronic Kidney Disease (CDK).
In a statement released on March 9, 2010, the Lynx Conservation Program states that three of the 72 Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) raised in breeding centers in Spain have succumbed to the illness, and 25 of the animals housed at the country’s two breeding centers have shown symptoms of CDK. The veterinarians at the centers say that they are working and consulting with experts to try to find the possible origin of the CKD, as well as trying to prevent the emergence of new cases. However, their main focus right now is on maintaining and providing palliative care to the high percentage of the population affected by this disease. A report from a study by the Department of Animal Medicine and Surgery at the University of Madrid, said: “Little is known about the diseases that affect these animals in the wild or in captivity. The serum biochemistry and urinalyses revealed signs of mild chronic kidney disease in 16 of the 23 animals evaluated, a progressive disease of immune origin. We postulate a possible genetic predisposition towards the disease, enhanced by inbreeding and a possible connection to an immune-mediated systemic disease.”
The Iberian lynx is one of the world’s most endangered cat species (IUCN status: critically endangered), due to a catastrophic combination of habitat loss, lack of prey and incidental and intentional killings. There are believed to be less than 200 Iberian Lynx left worldwide. According to information attributed to the conservation group SOSLynx and published in an April 2002 guardian.co.uk article, if the Iberian Lynx becomes extinct, it would be the first member of its animal family to die out since prehistoric times, the saber-toothed cat.