Despite the protected status of the species, poaching and loss of prey animals remain serious threats to the future of lynx in the Balkans.
Lynx are elusive animals which in part explains why we know so little about their basic ecology. This lack of knowledge is a serious obstacle to their conservation. If we can find out how they are distributed and in what density, then we can recommend which areas are a priority for protection. Knowing more about their favoured prey species will help in the management of those areas. PTES is funding Dimce Melovski of the Macedonian Ecological Society to find out more.
The research will take place in Mavrovo National Park, the largest protected area in Macedonia and the only place where lynx reproduction has been confirmed in recent years. Two Balkan lynxes will be briefly captured and radio collared so their movements can be tracked. The animals will be caught in humane traps placed on key trail routes. As soon as the animals are caught, the action of the trap door closing triggers text messages to the researchers’ mobile phones so that they can react very fast and minimise the time the animal is confined. The data collected will then be analysed and passed to the authorities to ensure that the right tracts of land are protected.
An education programme is planned too of special training courses for local hunters and game wardens so that they can be drawn into monitoring lynx and help the future recovery of the species.