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Iberian lynx returns to Madrid after 40 years

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a young male called Kentaro from the organisation's captive breeding programme has travelled more than 60 miles from where he was released in Toledo province late last year, with signals from his electronic collar traced near the town of Aranjuez, just 30 miles from central Madrid.

Ramón Pérez de Ayala, head of the WWF-backed LIFE-Iberlince recovery programme, said Kentaro "would have been better off staying where he was, in the Toledo hills which we identified as an ideal area in terms of habitat and rabbit population."

The wild population of the Iberian lynx, a smaller relative of the Eurasian lynx which conservationists wish to reintroduce into Britain, dropped to just 94 in 2002 before captive breeding and releases helped numbers recover to 332 in 2013.

The biggest threats to the animal are habitat encroachment, illegal hunting and a dearth of rabbits owing to disease.

The WWF programme is now shifting its focus from the lynx's Andalusian strongholds, and introducing more animals into central areas closer to Madrid.

"It's a disgrace that a region like Madrid should be the last one to draw up a plan for the recovery of endangered species, like the Iberian lynx and the wolf, when it is obliged to do so under national law," said Juan Carlos del Olmo, the secretary general of WWF in Spain.

The Madrid region "has favourable habitats" where lynxes could settle, he added.


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