Here we present you the European lynx in a short portrait.
Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx)
Appearance: The lynx has a body length of 90-120 cm (rarely up to 130 cm). The tail is only 11-26 cm long. The shoulder height is up to 70 cm and it weighs approx. 25 kg. The coat is thick and soft, its colour varies according to age, season and the individual. It is usually reddish-brown with many dots, but the coat can also be dark grey on the head, neck and back with a whitish belly. The lynx is a nocturnal animal. It has very good vision, even in the dark.
Tracks: Lynx retract their claws when running, so there are no claw marks in their tracks. The usual gait is the walk, similar to the wolf's direct register trot.
Male = male lynx
Female = female lynx
How They Live
Lynx are solitary, the territories of males and females overlap. Their territories range from approx. 50 km² to 400 km² in size, whereby the males clearly require larger areas. Fresh traces of urine mark the territories and have a repellent effect on other species, but are attractive during the mating season. The female lynx raises its young on its own. The offspring leaves the territory after 10-12 months.
The lynx is an ambush hunter. It specializes in stalking and short sprints. The lynx makes quick and silent movements, which enable it to attack the prey unexpectedly. It can jump from a standing position up to 4-6m in any direction. In Europe, the lynx eats mainly medium-sized ungulates such as roe deer, chamois or mouflon. But their prey also includes small mammals and birds. The lynx can hear a mouse from a distance of 60 metres.
The lynx is often a symbol of the wilderness and untouched nature. At the same time, projects to reintroduce the lynx have raised fears among both farmers and hunters about their impact on animal husbandry and traditional hunting. For more information see: Lynx and Human.
Lynx and Human
Due to its specialization in medium-sized prey, the lynx poses hardly any danger to horses or cattle. Where lynx are present, however, attacks on sheep and goats are to be expected, as well as on fenced game. However, experience shows that the expected damage to livestock caused by lynx is rather moderate compared to damage caused by other large predators, and it can also be reasonably well predicted based on the site conditions (Kaphegyi and Dees, 2010).
Many countries support preventive measures to protect pastures or they pay compensation for damage caused by lynx. Adapted forms of shelter are the best method of herd protection. Protective measures involving electric fences and pens close to settlements or above the forest borders are promising. Sheepdogs are also good to prevent lynx attacks. Lynx can climb over wooden posts very well with their claws; metal posts, for example, have proven better here.
Dogs can walk safely without a lead in areas where lynx are present, provided that the relevant forest laws are observed. However, dogs should generally remain under human supervision in the forest. A female lynx that has to defend her kittens from dogs can of course also become dangerous for a dog. Lynx would also defend their prey from a potential competitor such as a dog by paw blows.
The main prey of the lynx in Europe is roe deer. Lynx have large territories but like to stay longer in regions with a high prey density. This can lead to conflicts, especially in winter feeding areas or human hunting grounds. In order to increase tolerance towards animals, a few initiatives have introduced rewards for reporting attacks on wild animals in various regions, e.g. Bavaria. The hunter is thus compensated for reporting the attacks; at the same time, the valuable data can be used for research.
There have been no documented fatal attacks of lynx on humans. The few documented cases of injuries caused by lynx are based on situations in which the lynx was unable to escape and/or was annoyed.
Monitoring and Preservation
Lynx currently live in 23 European countries. The estimated total number of Eurasian lynx is around 9,000 individuals, and most populations have been generally stable over the past decade, although most of the actively resettled populations seem to stagnate at relatively small sizes. The monitoring methods for the lynx population include genetic analysis, telemetry, winter snow tracking, camera trapping, hair trapping, collection of presence characteristics (faeces, prey, sightings, tracks) and autopsy of dead animals.
Lynx are a protected species in Europe under the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979) and the EU Habitats Directive (1992). There are regions in Europe where the lynx was never extinct and where there are constant sightings, such as Scandinavia, the Carpathians and the Balkans. Some countries where lynx have become extinct, e.g. Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland, have initiated reintroduction projects, thereby expanding the range of lynx distribution. In the meantime, the lynx has also returned to countries such as Latvia, Bulgaria and Hungary from neighbouring countries due to conservation measures.
The Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EEC), in which the lynx is also listed, aims to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for all native and endangered species and their habitats.
The conservation status of a species in a biogeographical region is considered "favourable" if:
- The data on the population dynamics of the species suggest that the species is and will continue to be a viable element of the natural habitat to which it belongs;
- The natural range of this species neither decreases nor is likely to decrease in the foreseeable future;
- A sufficiently large habitat exists and will likely continue to exist in order to ensure the long-term survival of the populations of this species (Habitats Directive Art. 1 i).