The Iberian lynx, which provided the genes for about 900 wild cats, passed away in Spain recently at the age of 20.
Aura, an Iberian lynx who helped save her species from extinction and whose genes are still present in over 900 of the spotted and tufty-eared cats, passed away in southern Spain at the record-breaking age of 20.
There were only 94 Iberian lynxes left on the peninsula in 2002, the year Aura was born in the Doñana National Park in Andalucia. The animals were on the verge of going extinct due to decades of eradication efforts, a significant decline in rabbit populations caused by rabbit hemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis, as well as human encroachment.
Today, there are now more than 1,300 lynxes, thanks to an ongoing breeding and conservation program.
Dynasty Through 14 Kittens
When Aura was captured and entered the ground-breaking ex-situ Iberian lynx conservation program, she was only three weeks old and weighed only 702g. Aura was essential in turning around the decline. She gave birth to 14 kittens during the course of her 20 years, and through them, she established an impressive dynasty.
Antonio Rivas, who runs the El Acebuche breeding center in Huelva, said that the species was in danger of going extinct when she was born. Aura lived in the Andalucian province of Huelva.
Rivas added that there were 14 population centers and 1,365 wild animals when Aura passed away, 20 years later. She did a great job, leaving behind an incredible legacy.
He continued that although it hadn’t been an easy choice to take young lynxes out of their natural habitat and breed them in captivity, it had certainly paid off.
Rivas also related some of his memories of Aura and her tenacious character.
Aura, the Grumpy Lynx
Rivas recalls Aura as being a little grumpy because she had to compete with Saliega, a different female lynx who rose to fame for being the first lynx to have a litter in captivity.
Aura was a little grumpier and a little more aggressive than Saliega when she had her first litter a few years later. However, Aura was a magnificent animal who took excellent care of her litter.
Rivas claimed that Aura was always upfront about her birthing preferences and had turned down the center’s personalized birthing pens.
The grumpy lynx, he claimed, preferred to give birth in the open. She required tranquility, as well as a chance to experience the morning’s freshness and warmth. When she was giving birth once, it was pouring heavily, and the team had to set up a canopy out of concern for the litter. She possessed a strong personality and was extremely demanding. She was still fantastic despite that.
Read also: Iberian Lynx: Oldest Ancestor Recently Found In Spain, Researchers Say
Being a Retired Ambassador Iberian Lynx
Aura was the longest-living Iberian lynx known when she passed away at the age of 20 years and 6 months. In the wild, these cats typically live to be around 15 years old.
Aura, according to Rivas, had been a fantastic ambassador for her species right up until the end of her life.
According to Rivas, the lynx was relocated to a location where the public will be able to see and observe her, as well as learn about lynxes, along with the significance of protecting wild animals and natural areas when the lynx stopped giving birth in 2018.
She relished retirement as an ambassador in the final years of her life. She was helping to protect the Iberian lynx right up until the very end, The Guardian reports.
The Iberian lynx is the most endangered cat in the world, according to World Wildlife Fund. Iberian lynxes have never been seen in the wild by very many people. It is not only one of the world’s rarest species, but also one of the most elusive. and resides in some of Spain’s wildest and remotest regions.
Lynxes continue to face threats on roads and in more untamed areas despite the success of the conservation program. Due to climate change, farming, mining pollution, and marsh drainage, the ecosystems of the Doñana, which is home to a significant population of felines, are suffering.
One of Europe’s largest and most significant wetlands, the park’s largest permanent lake, shrank to a small puddle in September as the aquifer that supplies the region and supports millions of migratory birds was depleted by years of drought and overuse.
Iberian lynxes, according to Animalia, are nocturnal and solitary animals. They are most active around sunset, when their prey is most active. Activity patterns are related to the European rabbit, which is their main prey.
Related article: Rewilding Lynx: Will Bringing Big Cats to the Wild Help Britain’s Ecosystem?
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