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Road kill: Spain's wild cats face rising death toll

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Road kill: Spain's wild cats face rising death toll
A female lynx and her cubs at the captive breeding center of the Doñana National Park, southern Spain. Photo: Iberian Lynx Conservation Breeding Programme/AFP
13:12 CEST+02:00
Spain's critically endangered Iberian lynxes are facing annihilation with increasing numbers of the cats being run over by speeding cars. Scientists say it's time to act to save them before they all die out.

Saturday morning was another dark day for the Iberian lynx with one of the cats being run over near the southern Spanish town of La Puebla del Río.

That brings the number of cats killed in car accidents this year to 16 — more than any previous year, Spanish national broadcaster RTVE reported on Sunday.

At the end of 2013, the number of Iberian lynxes, the world's endangered feline, was estimated at 332.

But the population of Iberian lynxes has dropped by ten percent in the animals' homeland of Andalusia in just 20 months, with 30 animals being run over by cars.

The regional government says the rising number of lynxes is to blame as the animals are moving to extend their habitat. They also blame a rabbit virus which has affected the cats' major food source. 

But scientists and activists argue that most collisions happen on roads where no infrastructure has been installed to facilitate and secure animal movements.

They also say the recent asphalting of roads in lynx habitats means more cars are travelling faster than ever through these areas. 

In response, the Andalusian government recently announced it would establish a new "protocol of collaboration" aimed at reducing the number of incidents. 

A joint conservative programme was set up in 2009 by the European Union and the Andalusian government to boost their numbers, and the population of wildcats in Spain has since tripled.

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