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201231Mar10:59

Cubs born of world’s rarest cat in Iber­ian lynx breed­ing cen­tre in Portugal

Infor­ma­tion
pub­lished 31 March 2012 | mod­i­fied 05 Decem­ber 2012
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Work to save the Crit­i­cally Endan­gered Iber­ian lynx (Lynx par­di­nus) is show­ing results, with the birth of sev­eral lit­ters of lynx cubs herald­ing the start of a suc­cess­ful sea­son at Portugal’s breed­ing centre.

Coor­di­nated efforts of cap­tive breed­ing and recov­ery of lynx habi­tat work to guar­an­tee the still uncer­tain future of the species

The breed­ing cen­tre, set up by the Insti­tuto da Con­ser­vação da Natureza e da Bio­di­ver­si­dade (ICNB) forms an impor­tant part of a larger Iber­ian lynx con­ser­va­tion effort, also involv­ing Fauna & Flora Inter­na­tional (FFI) and on ground part­ner Liga para a Pro­tecção da Natureza (LPN). The cap­tive breed­ing pro­gramme works in con­junc­tion with sim­i­lar sites in Spain, to boost lynx num­bers while main­tain­ing the genetic diver­sity of the species.

The breed­ing sea­son started last Decem­ber when the females started to go on heat. Mat­ing was planned accord­ing to genetic cri­te­ria and respect­ing the observed behav­ioral inter­ac­tions among the animals

The first suc­cess came on 5 March, when Biz­naga gave birth to three cubs. One of nine females at the cen­tre, Biz­naga had never suc­cess­fully repro­duced before. Two of the cubs were aban­doned an hour after birth and have been trans­ferred to an incu­ba­tor. Unfor­tu­nately, the third cub died 48 hours after birth. Another female, the six year-​old Cas­tañuela, gave birth to four cubs on 6 March. The cen­tre team says, “This female shows great ded­i­ca­tion and has exhib­ited parental car­ing behav­iours towards all of her off­spring. The cubs’ devel­op­ment appears to be nor­mal and stable.”

Although giv­ing birth to such large lit­ters is rare – this has hap­pened only once pre­vi­ously within the ex-​situ pro­gramme (breed­ing in cap­tiv­ity) – three other young females have also pro­duced lit­ters of four cubs dur­ing March. Presently, 17 cubs are well and thriv­ing – two of them with human assis­tance – and already weigh nearly a kilo­gram (two pounds).

All lynx in the cen­tre are mon­i­tored by video sur­veil­lance 24 hours a day, ensur­ing the well-​being of the ani­mals, and help­ing sci­en­tists get a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the breed­ing behav­iour of lynx in cap­tiv­ity. The breed­ing sea­son runs until the end of April, with more births expected soon.

The group effort of FFI, ICNB, LPN and many other part­ners sees the imple­men­ta­tion of a multi faceted approach to con­serv­ing the Iber­ian lynx. Each com­po­nent addresses a vital aspect, with the result­ing pro­gramme being an exten­sive, sup­ported approach to ensur­ing the sur­vival of the species.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at Fauna & Flora Inter­na­tional. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Source: FFI News, 30.03.2012)

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