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Learning English - Words in the News
26 April, 2004 - Published 13:12 GMT
Big Cat in danger
An Iberian lynx

The Iberian lynx, a wild cat which lives only in Spain and Portugal, is at risk. With only about a hundred and fifty animals left in the wild, it's become the world's most endangered big cat. This report from Helen Briggs:

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Sometimes known as Europe's tiger, the continent's only native wild cat once roamed Spain, Portugal and southern France. Now there are only two breeding populations left, and conservationists say the last few animals may die out in the next few years. The report says the EU's contributed to the lynx's decline by subsidising roads, dams and farming schemes that have killed wild cats and destroyed their habitat.

The organisation that carried out the research, SOS Lynx, says there's little time left to save the species because it's so close to extinction. It's calling for a change in political policy to protect the animal's habitat and safeguard its future. Priorities include setting up a captive breeding programme to release animals back into the wild, and legislation to control hunting and development in lynx areas.

If more isn't done, it says, Europe faces the terrible embarrassment of the first extinction of a big cat species since pre-historic times.

Helen Briggs, BBC

Listen to the words

a native animal is one that lives naturally in a particular area, it has not been brought in from somewhere else

travelled around

breeding populations
groups of the animal that are mating and producing children

people who work to protect the environment

die out
if an animal species dies out, then they are all dead

giving money to help pay for something

the natural area where an animal lives

when all of a particular animal or plant species are dead and there can be no more, ever


a captive breeding programme to release animals back into the wild
a plan to capture some of the animals so that they can have children safely - the children would then be returned to their natural habitat

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