The Eurasian lynx is the largest of all four lynx species. Its powerful legs enable it to spring to catch its prey. A lynx’s fur is usually grey with spots, though it can vary in the amount it has, with characteristic black ear tufts.
The Eurasian lynx has a broad distribution that extends from Western Europe across to the boreal forests of Russia down into central Asia extending across the entire Tibetan plateau. In Europe the remaining populations are isolated.
Female lynx begin to breed at about two years old. The mating season occurs between February and April and then, following a gestation period of about 70 days they have a litter of between one to four young.
The lynx feeds on small ungulates (hoofed mammals) such as roe deer. The Eurasian lynx – the largest – is the only one that primarily relies on ungulates. Where deer are scarce lynx will prey on smaller animals such as mountain hares, beaver, wild boar and birds.
Eurasian lynx inhabit well forested areas with good deer numbers, though in Central Asia they are also found in more open, thinly wooded areas and have been recorded in thick scrub and even barren rocky areas.
Although the population has benefited from the ban on legal international fur trade, which means the number of furs going to China and Russia has reduced significantly, illegal hunting still represents a major threat. Habitat loss, with a resulting loss in their prey species such as deer, continues to be problem.
The Eurasian lynx is legally protected in most European countries. Lynx have also been released in several areas of Europe in an effort to reintroduce this elusive predator including in Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and France and although there are mixed feelings towards the releases, since the 1950s there has been an increase in their number and geographical spread.
Dimce Melovski, Macedonia
Eurasian lynx subspecies – Balkan lynx
Small worldwide grant