In 2002 the Iberian lynx population fell to an estimated minimum of just 94 cats. In the latest count that number is now 844, and experts are now saying that if this climb continues the Iberian lynx could no longer be endangered by 2040 (it’s thought by this time there could be 3000 Iberian lynx living wild on the Iberian peninsula).
The main reason for the lynx’s decline was an introduced disease that ravaged the population. Seen as vermin, the Spanish farmers has been trying to eliminate the rabbits for some time. However as lynx specialise in hunting rabbits, this essentially meant that large numbers starved to death.
In the lynxes absence foxes and Egyptian mongoose (is unsure how long these animals have been in Spain, but certainly since ancient times) have increased their population dramatically. As always happens, when you remove the apex predator, smaller predators multiply fast. However these smaller predators do not perform in the niche as apex predators effectively, instead they tend to cause the food chain to collapse.
The return of the lynx is causing the fox and Egyptian mongoose population to full back to more natural levels, and as a result the rabbit population is rebounding too healthy numbers as well. We can only watch and keep pressure on the recovery project, to make sure that is not prematurely shut.