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Iberian lynx 'world's most endangered cat' saved from extinction, for now

A breeding project in Spain has released 100 of the cats into the wild

Spain iberian lynx 12 04 13Enlarge
An Iberian lynx is released into the wild in Spain during the first experimental reintroduction of two Iberian lynxes back in Dec. 14, 2009. At the start of the 20th century there were 100,000 of the animals in Spain and Portugal, but that dropped to as little as 110. ( /AFP/Getty Images)

A group of 100 of the world's most endangered cat, the Iberian lynx, has been released back into the wild in Spain.

According to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) the animals' population had plummeted to just 110, of which just 38 were breeding females, putting the wild cat species in danger of being the first to become extinct for at least 2,000 years.

However, the BBC reports that thanks to the Lynx Life project and its efforts to enhance the felines' habitat, numbers are up too - the population has grown to 300 cats.

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"The situation was really dramatic.  There were only two populations left in the wild," the project's director, Miguel Simon, is quoted as saying.

"In order to preserve this species, we had to create a captive population in case the wild population became extinct."

The Portugal News Online confirms that a further 12 Iberian lynx cubs have been born at one of the reproduction centers in Silves in southern Portugal in recent weeks.

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According to a statement from the Institute of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity, only one of the cubs died, while the others are being fed naturally by their mothers.

Seventeen Iberian lynx cubs have so far been born in Silves this year, and there are also breeding centers in Juan and in the Donana National Park in southern Spain.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/spain/120413/iberian-lynx-worlds-most-endangered-cat-saved-extinction-n