In the wilds of Andalucia, only an afternoon’s drive from the holiday beaches of the Costa del Sol, lives the rarest cat on Earth. With its spotted coat and stubby tail, the Iberian lynx is the smallest of the world’s three lynx species, about twice the size of a domestic cat.
Tracking down this elusive feline will be a challenge, but should be made easier by Sergio Gonzalez Asian, my naturalist-guide and lynx-tracker extraordinary. With Sergio at the wheel we drive from Seville to Cordoba and then into the Sierra Morena – the Dark Mountains whose 4,000ft summits roll across Andalucia for 280 miles (450km). Once a famous haunt of bandits, their hidden valleys and wooded slopes are now a refuge for Spain’s most important lynx population.
In living memory they still roamed widely across Iberia, but by 2001 only 90 animals were left. Had they become extinct they would have been the first cat species to be lost since the sabre-toothed tiger 10,000 years ago.