1 Tahrcountry Musings: Rabbit decline threatens endangered Iberian Lynx

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rabbit decline threatens endangered Iberian Lynx

Myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease, combined with habitat loss and over-hunting, have brought rabbit numbers in Spain and Portugal to as low as 5% of population estimates 50 years ago. The Iberian Lynx, whose diet consists of 80-100% rabbits, has seen its own numbers fall to little more than 100 adults, according to the latest official figures, partly due to rabbit decline. The Iberian Imperial Eagle, another rabbit specialist predator has declined to around 150 pairs. At least 39 predator species rely partly or exclusively on the rabbit, and rabbits are also important for many invertebrate and plant species. Rabbit expert Andrew Smith, Chairman of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) LagomorphSpecialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN said it was now vital to recover rabbit populations in Spain and Portugal.

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