Wildfires in Portugal Push Iberian Lynx Closer to Extinction

The endangered Iberian lynx is closer than ever to extinction following a rash of devastating wildfires that hit Portugal this summer during a blistering, continent-wide heat wave. Only about 120 lynx remain in the wild in Portugal and southwestern Spain, down from some 3,000 in the 1960s. Though illegal hunting of the pointy-eared cats has contributed to the species’ decline, the primary problem has been a drop in its main prey, wild rabbits. Disease has wiped out many of the rabbits, and now wildfires have destroyed thousands of acres of their habitat. “The main problem of the lynx, a lack of prey, has just got much worse,” said Eduardo Goncalves, president of the conservation group SOS Lynx. “We are on the verge of the first-ever extinction of a big cat species in modern times.”