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PETS AND THEIR PEOPLE: MISSING LYNX; Help save big cat from extinction.

Byline: By BRITT COLLINS

THE rare Iberian lynx will be extinct within THREE years, warn animal groups.

Numbers have slumped from 1,200 a decade ago to 100 today, with just 20 breeding females.

And the World Wildlife Fund fears it could be the first big cat to die out since the sabre-toothed tiger millions of years ago.

The metre-long, striped lynx live in the forests of Southern Spain and Portugal. But they are at risk from a road built across their last major habitat, the Donana National Park near Seville.

Wendy Elliot, of WWF, said: "Three lynx have died on the road in six months. And 19 out of the last 25 deaths have been road kills.

"If cheetahs or leopards were dying out there would be international outrage - but the lynx doesn't receive the same protection." Other threats include illegal hunting and a decline in their main prey, wild rabbits.

Now the WWF is urging the Spanish Government to close the road. Wendy Elliot added: "We've been fighting for two years but the authorities are very apathetic.

"Unless something drastic happens quickly the Iberian Lynx is a dead cat walking."

CAPTION(S):

ON BRINK: Endangered lynx
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 29, 2005
Words:198
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