Conservation starts with education. This is also the case with wildlife: you first have to know about the animals living in the south of Portugal, before you can help protecting them. Next time, instead of going to the beach yet again, broaden your horizons and learn something new about the wildlife in the Algarve. Here are four suggestions.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine January 2017


Observe Iberian lynxes in Silves

One of the most endangered large cat species in the world is bred in captivity in Silves. The Iberian lynx, which is native to Spain and Portugal, is on the brink of extinction because of habitat destruction and the decline of its prey base (there aren’t enough European rabbits). At the National Centre for Reproduction of the Iberian Lynx (CNLRI), they’re working hard to not only breed these animals, but also reintroduce them into nature; therefore human contact with the lynx is kept to a minimum. The centre isn’t open to the public, but pictures of little lynx babies that were born in the centre can be seen here and there’s an observatory with a telescope and information boards on the hill just a few minutes away from the centre, overlooking the valley. Currently there’s room for volunteers – more info? Click here.

Centro Nacional de Reprodução de Lince ibérico, Estrada da Barragem do Funcho,Km3, Vale Fuzeiros, 8300 Silves

Picture below by


Walk with donkeys in Vale das Amoreiras

They are cute and have long ears. If that’s all you know about donkeys, better sign up for a donkey walk, where you’ll learn loads about these animals. From grooming and tacking up to how donkeys were used as tractors, what they eat and how to best bribe a stubborn donkey (an orange might do the trick). Last year, Enjoy the Algarve tried donkey trekking near Aljezur with Sofia von Mentzingen and had an awesome time – read all about it here. Vale das Amoreiras too far away for you? Near Monchique, Robert Nestmann also organises walks with his herd of donkeys. Not keen on walking, but want to help in a different way? Get in touch with Refúgio dos Burros in Estômbar.



Learn about birds in Olhão

Yearly, wildlife rehabilitation centre RIAS deals with about 1000 injured animals. These are mostly birds (flamingos, eagles, owls, etc., you name it, they’ve cared for it and released it back into the wild), but also turtles, foxes, hedgehogs and bats. RIAS is located inside the Marim Environmental Education Centre in the Ria Formosa nature reserve in Olhão and has a clinic, an intensive care unit and flight pens. Visitors aren’t allowed behind the scenes to avoid extra stress for the recovering animals, but the staff is more than happy to talk about their work and the importance of biodiversity. Sometimes there are volunteering possibilities at RIAS, read more about this here.

Picture below by Marijke Verschuren



Spot marine creatures in Arrifana

Sea cucumbers, hermit crabs and cuttlefish are just three of the marine animals you’ll find during an intertidal workshop with CERES. Set up by geologist Dr Astrid Blum and biologist Dr Axel Bamberger, the CERES International Project is a conservation organisation committed to field-based education, environmental research and low impact outdoor recreation. Workshops include marine aquaculture (spot molluscs being ranched in the sea), ‘cetacean conservation’ (learn about dolphins, orcas and hammerhead sharks) and ‘after dark’ (see how animals like octopus and fish behave at night). Normally, CERES’ field trips are targeted towards university students, academics and scientists, but they also provide educational research trips for school kids, like this one for students of the Aljezur International School at Praia da Amoreira.


See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine January 2017

Posted in Features.