The small size of current Iberian lynx free-ranging populations renders them highly vulnerable to stochastic events. Thus, it is imperative to create, as soon as possible, new wild populations, while simultaneously increasing numbers in the existing ones. Prior to any re-introduction/translocation a detailed viability study is required (IUCN Guidelines for Re-introductions: IUCN, 1998). It is important to determine if the cause or causes that brought the species to extinction in the specific area have been eradicated and, if so, if there is administrative and local population support for the programme and if the habitat is prepared to support viable population of the species. All re-introductions and translocations must be performed using scientific support and the Iberian lynx should be no exception. Such conservation techniques require an interdisciplinary approach, with input from experts in ecology, veterinary medicine, genetics, physiology and behavioural sciences, as well as support from socio-political and information sciences. All stages of programme development and implementation must have well-defined protocols that document objectives, methodology, responsibilities, as well as the accountability of the organizations and individuals involved.
The Andalusian government, by means of the current LIFE-Nature Project for the Reintroduction of the Iberian lynx in Andalusia, has evaluated different potential areas for lynx reintroduction in this Spanish region and has selected two areas that comply with IUCN criteria. Please check www.lifelince.org for detailed information about Iberian Lynx reintroduction efforts in Andalusia.
The first reintroduction is scheduled to take place in 2009 using wild-born individuals from the Sierra Morena population. Reintroduction of captive-born lynxes is scheduled for 2010. Captive candidates will be chosen based on genetic and behavioural criteria. Preparation for release will include maintaining animals in large preconditioning enclosures with minimal human contact and exposure to natural stimuli, including live prey. Lessons from other reintroduction programmes will be essential for the planning and implementation of the first Iberian lynx reintroduction.