This article makes me think a little harder about the subject.
In April 2011, three young cats from the world’s most endangered species have been released into the wild in Spain from a captive breeding program at the La Olivilla breeding centre in Juan .
Miguel Simon, director of the Lynx LIFE project, said:
The Lynx LIFE team admits that radical intervention like this is a last resort. But if it works, these cats could be the first of many to roam free once again.
If the lynx went extinct it would be the first cat extinction (that we know of) since that of the saber-toothed cat at the end of the ice age.
"The cat’s decline was down to habitat loss, poisoning, road casualties, feral dogs and poaching. Its habitat loss is due mainly to infrastructure improvement, urban and resort development and tree monocultivation, which serves to break the lynx’s distribution area. It has also suffered the loss of its main food source: rabbits, which were wiped out by disease.
That breeding program has proved successful and there are now around 100 cats bred at the centre.
Dr Simon said: "The Iberian lynx is a key species in the Mediterranean ecosystem. It is a top predator, and if we preserve this species, we are preserving the whole ecosystem."
"It is our heritage, and we have to preserve it for future generations."
|Radio collars will help researchers monitor the released lynx|
As the cats were released, they were a little confused at first, unsure of their new surroundings.
But after tentatively taking a few steps, they bound into the wild, ready to explore their new home.
Dr Lopez said: "Just a few years ago, everything seemed so difficult, and now we are approaching the successful conservation of the species."
A total of 15 releases have taken place this year, and if new wild populations begin to establish, more and more of the captive cats will be introduced to the wild.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
When you are looking to support an animal program, do your research. Do they have a breeding program? What happens to the captive bred population?
Information by Paul Canning and BBC News