This heartbreaking image shows an endangered Iberian lynx which has been killed in a trap set by hunters as eight of the protected animals have been killed his year.
Of the eight killed, one of the dead lynx made headlines when she gave birth to offspring earlier this year and experts now fear all four of her kittens will have died after she was killed.
Animal rights organisation Ecologistas en Accion (Ecologists in Action) report that four Iberian lynxes (Lynx pardinus) have been killed by “hunters” in the mountains of Toledo, in the central Spanish region of Castille La Mancha. The animals were part of a programme to protect and recover the lynxes in the area called Life+Iberlince.
Two of them were shot dead by poachers while the other two were killed by illegal poaching methods, such as the trap seen in the picture, according to the organisation.
The regional government has confirmed the death of those animals plus four more that were killed after being run over, so in total this year eight Iberian lynx have been killed.
The regional government reported “the shot which caused the death of a female lynx that had four cubs was especially tragic”.
This lynx was called Nenufar and made headlines when she gave birth to her offspring, according to Miguel Hernandez, spokesman of the organisation. She can be seen playing with her four offspring in the video when she lies down and they begin suckling.
The lynx kittens were recorded in April this year in the Montes de Toledo after Nenufar had given birth.
The other three victims of poachers are reportedly named Planeta, Penafiel and Mazapan.
Antonio Aranda, the Head of the Service of Natural Places from the Department of the Environment told reporters: “The offspring were very small to survive, we have found one of them dead (of natural causes), the other ones, have not yet been found but we feel they are already lost.
“Nothing like this has ever happened but we cannot criminalise hunters, they are isolated cases.”
Ecologists in Action spokesman Hernandez said “since the beginning of statistics on lynx deaths, it is the first time we have seen high numbers like this due to poaching in one place and over a short time” and he complained that “it was not made public until now”.
The organisation has called for the area to be closed for hunting until the deaths are cleared up.
Hernandez told Central European News that hunters were the culprits for the death of those animals that are under protection, not only for the use of banned hunting methods but also shooting.
He also claimed that “the regional government confirmed that Nenufar was shot to death by a hunter and therefore her four offspring should be considered as victims of the hunters too”, adding that “they are all dead, one of them was confirmed as dead but the others were too small to survive, they might be killed by other predators or died for another reason”.
The Iberian lynx is listed as ‘endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of NatureRed List.
By the turn of the 21st century, the Iberian lynx was on the verge of extinction, as only about 100 individuals survived in two isolated sub-populations in Andalusia.
Conservation efforts have helped boost the population in recent years.