• Drone program to replace collar-fitted radio devices used to track animals
• Conservationist efforts helped increase local lynx population to 327 last year
The Andalusia regional government has announced it has reached agreement with a private company to track endangered Iberian lynxes in order to boost efforts to reintroduce the cat species into wilderness areas of Andalusia, from which the species was nearly wiped out in recent years.
The Iberian lynx nearly vanished from southern Spain by the end of the last century, the victim of illegal hunting, a loss of habitat and a disease that killed large numbers of the cats’ natural prey, rabbits. In the Andalusia region, the number of Iberian lynx had dropped to just 94 animals in two small areas.
By end-2014, their numbers rose to 327 due to efforts by government and conservationists to reintroduce the animals into the wild and the species was moved from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Until recently, conservationists had been using radio-tracking devices attached to collars fitted to the animals to track them in the wild. The new agreement signed between the government of Andalusia and Enel Green Power will see the private company developing a specially adapted drone prototype to better track and help protest the species.