Portugal ranks in top 5 of European countries with most species facing extinction risk
The recently released IUCN Red List recently ranked Portugal as the fourth ‘worst’ European country when it comes to the risk of species extinction. According to these reports, in the last three years, the number of species at risk of extinction nationally has doubled.
The most affected organisms are plants, followed by insects, molluscs, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, fungi and amphibians. In terms of the world ranking, Portugal stands in slot 27 with 456 threatened species. From a global perspective, the Portuguese situation doesn’t look too problematic in relation to the huge swathes of America, China, India, and Australia which show a high risk of extinction for thousands of species. But on the European level, Portugal only fares better than Italy, Greece and Spain.
Spain took first place as the “worst” in Europe, with 736 species in danger of extinction.
The report benefited the public with a breakdown of causing factors, and In Portugal’s case much of the situation would appear to be a result of the national move towards more intensive farming practices and increased use of fertilisers.
A notable case of a species on the verge of extinction in the Algarve is the Iberian lynx, the world’s most-endangered cat and Europe’s most-threatened predatory animal. As a result of extreme hunting throughout the 20th century, and a variety of diseases that decimated the number of its prey, the European rabbit, their numbers fell rapidly New highways constructed in once-isolated corners of rural southern Spain and Portugal saw dozens killed by vehicles annually. By 2002, its population had fallen to just 94 known individuals in the wild, leaving the Iberian lynx on the cusp of extinction.
The catastrophic future facing the lynx moved conservationists into action, so with the financial backing of almost €70 million from the European Union’s Life programme and elsewhere, the Iberlince Lynx Conservation Programme has single-handedly turned this shy, elusive cat’s fortunes around. By 2011, five breeding centres had been set up across the Iberian Peninsula – four in Spain and one in Portugal. María José Pérez Aspa, a technician with the Andalusian government and resident vet at La Olivilla breeding centre, says that during 2018 the programme succeeded in raising and releasing 39 cubs, in January and February.