A Conservation Success Story


Earlier in the year I visited a good friend José-Luis who lives in Jaén province of Andalusia. I really like Jose, because he has a very modern understanding of how conservation works and he’s not afraid to try and tackle big issues head on.

There’s over 60 million olive trees in Jaén, the highest concentration anywhere else in the world. It’s a rather picturesque landscape (and the food is great), but between olives and hunting, there isn’t a lot of room left for wildlife – and Spain has some incredible wildlife. So José is working with them and helping by bringing in responsible tourism. He’s showing that land can be shared, and spared.

But the wildlife of Spain has another claim to fame. Most people probably don’t know that Spain (and a little bit of Portugal) are home simultaneously to the worlds rarest cat and one of conservations biggest success stories – the Iberian Lynx.

Iberian Lynx

With José’s unparallelled experience, and of course a healthy bit of luck, I was able to see one in the wild when I visited in March. Amazingly, this was on private land, that is being managed to encourage the lynx as well as supporting traditional past times. Through dedication and hard work, scientists in Spain brought the Lynx back from the very edge of extinction. Last week, José sent me a few recent images from camera traps and fieldwork to share with my readers. I think they quite simply speak for themselves.

From the Camera Traps…

…and a Spanish Imperial Eagle

From the Lynx Conservation Project


  • José is a very friendly chap, if you’re planning a visit, get in touch on his site Sierra-Trek. He’s also coming over later in the summer to give a few talks, get in touch if you would like to come along.
  • If those wet your appetite, there’s some more stunning Lynx pictures here.




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  1. Pedro

    Unfortunately the lynx situation is not as good as it seems. There is still to many poachers and poison in the spanish fields. Also some reintroductions carried out in the middle of the Peninsula (Castilla la Mancha) haven’t been succesful and usually they have ended with some young cats dead in the road.
    In my opinion dropping the species status from CR to EN wasn’t a good decission at all and doesn’t represents the current situation of the species.
    Another problem, as you say in your post is the fact that in the south of Spain most of the land is private and that makes the managment very tough

    • James_Borrell

      Thanks for the comments Pedro, it’s not an easy challenge! I have to think though, that if conservationists like you in Spain hadn’t tried then it would surely be extinct by now… Keep it up!

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