WILDASLIFE: THE IBERIAN LYNX, A SPECIES ON THE EDGE

Lynx-01 copyThe Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardel) is one of the rarest species on earth, and at the worlds 2nd rarest feline species after the Amur Leopard. So it is somewhat of an understatement to say the Iberian Lynx ,  with only an estimated 200-250 surviving in the wild, has more than a few problems regarding it’s mid to long term prospects for survival.  Since making the switch from photography to filming in the last couple of years, my  goal has been  to try to convince a production company specializing in wildlife documentaries to pick up my project and help me bring it to fruition, as this species is yet another that has suffered greatly at the hands of man, sadly to such an extent  that we have driven it to the edge of extinction in the last 15 years. It’s  numbers in the wild were down to between  75 -90 individuals only as far back as 1999.

In order to convince the production companies and broadcasters  that this would be a great story, albeit a difficult one,  I am about to spend several months over the coming year, living in the back of a Toyota MPV in the heart of Lynx territory in Andalusia, southern Spain, learning as much as I can about the species and the landscape where this species clings to a fragile existence.   Capturing footage of this very rare feline is a huge challenge, so  I  thought it would be a good idea to create a blog to give those with an interest in the species, and nature in general, a chance to follow my filming exploits as I set about trying to get a are peak into into the life of this very rare feline.

My interest in wildlife started at an early age, but my passion for photographing feline  species started in earnest  when I spent a total of 3 years camped out in southern Chiles awe inspiring Torres del Paine National Park, between 1998 and 2003, where I had gone to search out, observe and photograph the elusive Patagonian Puma. After that incredible adventure I found myself back in the chaos and pollution of London at somewhat of a  loose end.

Desperate to escape  I drifted to Andalucia, in southern Spain, a place I had been very fortunate to have visited as a young child, and had fond memories of. This large autonomous region is blessed with one of the best climates in the world and is home to a Plethora of wildlife species, and the rarest of these, and one I had long wished to observe in the wild , was clinging to a very fragile existence in two remnant breeding populations only a short drive from my home on the coast. It was a no brainer to choose this species as the subject for my first attempt at making a wildlife documentary.

So it begins. I am currently ensconced in a cafe near Marbella on the Costa del Sol, enjoying the last of the luxuries it offers, waiting for the last bits of equipment to arrive, as the coming months will be spent living in the back of Toyota MPV plotted up among the sun scorched hills and valleys of the Sierra Morena National Park,in Jaen province,  home to one of only 2 barely viable remnant breeding populations, the 2nd and smaller being in and around the Donana National Park, Spains most important wetland, located in the province of Huelva, These 2 locations will become my home for several months, and the success of my project will depend on a lot of luck, as I will be searching for the proverbial “needle in a haystack”

I CANNOT WAIT.

 

A long first day.

This day has been a long time coming, and I was looking forward to it  like a child awaits xmas morning, but I was a whisker away from a tantrum that would make the Bikini atolls nuclear tests look and sound  like a balloon popping in a lead lined bank vault, drama queen I hear you say, ok a bit OTT!. In a nut shell I arrived in the Andujar national park after a long drive from Marbella, via Seville, where I picked up  the last of my filming equipment, and shock horror I could not find the one bit of kit that is essential before filming can begin, my new binoculars. I spent an hour emptying the Toyota MPV and tearing a part everything I posses in the world , only to find them wrapped in a t-shirt in my fresh laundry , what an ass.

Heavy  rains had hit much of Andalucia over the last week, and had left it as lush as nature could conjure it, the light was rich and clear, the sun last rays became obscured by the thickening clouds on the horizon and I decided to spend what energy I had left watching several Red Deer hinds grazing knee deep in tall grass and sprays of wild flowers and clumps of the reddest poppies I had ever seen.

I did not expect to see a Lynx  today, and I did not, but I will be up with the birds everyday for the next few months trying to locate and film them, and no doubt wear myself into the ground in the process. Tomorrow I am going to load up the back pack with my new camera, strap  the tripod to my mountain bike, and head for the hills, but right now I am heading for my pillow in the back of my Toyota Previa before I fall asleep at the table in the  Los Pinos hotel.

Stories and Footage From The Natural World