This is the startling X-ray of an endangered Iberian lynx which was shot dead at point-blank range with over 300 pellets in its body.
The male Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), which was born in 2015 and was named Marvel, died in Cordoba, in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia after being shot intentionally at point-blank range, according to the director of the European preservation program Life-Iberlince, Miguel Angel Simon.
Simon said that the body of the animal, which belonged to the lynx population of the Guadalmellato river, which crosses the province of Cordoba, was found thanks to the radio collar it was wearing.
The biologist said that the body was taken to the centre of Malaga, also in Andalusia, where it underwent an X-ray which revealed that its death was caused by a point-blank shot which left 300 pellets in its body.
Simon said a 12-gauge shotgun shell was most likely used, with each cartridge usually containing 350 pellets.
He said the fact the animal had 300 pellets in its body means whoever killed Marvel “knew perfectly what they were doing” and added “if it had had between ten and 12 pellets, it could have been accident, but this was on purpose”.
Around 100 lynxes live in the Guadalmellato area, with researchers releasing a couple of animals a year locally.
Marvel was three years old and Simon said he had just reached maturity and could have bred for the first time this year.
Local media report around 20 percent of lynxes in the area wear radio collars to track their movement and allow researchers to learn more about them.
The Iberian Lynx was close to disappearing and in 2002 there were only 94 animals in the areas of Donana and Sierra Morena, both in Andalusia.
In 2015, after 15 years of recovery efforts, there were 589 animals in the same areas and the Iberian Lynx was removed from the extremely endangered list of the International Union of the Nature Preservation.
In 2017, 58 lynxes were reported as dead, 31 of them were run over and eight killed by poachers.
The Spanish Civil Guard are investigating Marvel’s death and no arrests have been reported.