Iberian lynx offered motorway reprieve

300km highway plan binned

The Spanish authorities have binned a plan to drive a 300km motorway south from Toldeo to Cordoba because the highway would have threatened the endangered Iberian lynx, Reuters reports.

The planned route would have sliced through several protected areas, including the Sierra Morena mountains, where some of the last 250 to 350 Iberian lynxes are struggling for survival. Ecologists said the new tarmac would wedge the populations between two main roads, "killing any chance of the animals spreading to new areas and recovering numbers".

Spain's environment ministry agreed, adding that the project would also have menaced other species including the the imperial eagle, Iberian wolf, and black stork.

Theo Oberhuber of Spanish environmentalist group Ecologists in Action summed up the announcement succinctly with: "This is excellent news."

The Iberian lynx's predicament is indeed dire. According to IberiaNature, just 100 "viable adults" remain in the wild. The principal reason for its decline appears to be the "decimation" of its favourite prey, the rabbit, by myxomatosis and Viral Hemorrhagic Disease of Rabbits (VHD). Hunting and destruction of habitat have also contributed added to the lnyx's woes. ®

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