The program to save the Iberian Lynx, the most critically endangered species on the planet, is set to suffer a setback as 10 of the 70 cats are expected to die within a year of chronic renal disease. There are a further 14 animals suffering from the disease, discovered in 2009, and 4 animals have already died from the disease.
In 2005, the programme to save the Lynx succeeded for the first time in breeding the animals in captivity and there are currently 70 animals, equally split between males and females, in the programme.
However, ten are expected to die within a year from a disease which was only discovered in 2009 and is not contagious and only affects the animals kept in captivity. The disease initially appeared to be associated with stress or feeding habits and specialists have been working to try and analyse the origin of the problem.
There has been a change relating to farms providing the rabbits for feed and a new vitamin, supplement and vaccination protocol is now in operation to try and combat the disease.
In addition to the chronic renal disease, the programme has been hit by the particularly bad winter weather with only 8 pairs of Lynx breeding as opposed to the normal 27 pairs and only two pups have been born so far this year.