The Iberian lynx wasn't always popular with humans. Half a century ago, the Iberian Peninsula, where Spain and Portugal are located, was home to thousands of Iberian lynxes. Their populations are half that of the northern, cool-climate Eurasian lynx ( Lynx lynx ), but both were once notorious for hunting livestock and being seen by farmers as vermin that must be culled. Hunters also hunt them for fur and meat, or simply as trophies.
The Iberian lynx was not legally job email list protected until the early 1970s. But habitat fragmentation, road kills, and loss of prey—especially the dwindling population of the staple cave rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus )—have kept Iberian lynx populations down, reaching new lows around the millennium. In 2002, there were only 94 Iberian lynx left in Spain, while Portugal directly declared the local lynx extinct.
The Iberian lynx has become one of the most endangered big cats in the world, second only to the Far Eastern leopard ( Panthera pardus orientalis ), and is likely to be the first cat family to become extinct in 12,000 years after the disappearance of the sword-foot tiger.