The lynx as an apex predator is indication of an intact environment.
The cat family are very
well represented in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species; in fact almost 70%
of the 36 cat species have been included since it’s re-evaluation in 2007-2008
and almost half of the Felidae (the cat family) are in the three highest threat
categories (Nowell, K. 2009). Ongoing habitat destruction and poaching are the
main reasons for population decline.
European continent is home to three of the existing 36 cat species: The
European Wildcat, the Iberian Lynx and the Eurasian Lynx; with the Iberian lynx
being the only cat species listed in the highest threat category of “critically
can only be found on the northern hemisphere; its habitat ranges from North
America, Northern Europe, Switzerland,
Spain, Romania and Turkey
through to Russia and China. In Germany the lynx has been extinct for over a
hundred years; however reintroduction projects are attempting to repopulate the
Harz Mountains and the Bavarian
Forest with Eurasian
Lynx. Thus, with a little luck, we
should again have the opportunity to watch the lynx right in our backyard.
the lynx is not met with enthusiasm by everyone. Some people are prejudiced
against the lynx or are apprehensive about presence of this silent-pawed
predator; especially in areas where humans and lynxes compete for the same
are inevitable, however it must not be forgotten that the presence of the lynx
as an apex predator is a strong indication of a healthy, balanced ecosystem and
all effort to preserve this must be supported.
species belong to the genus Lynx: the
Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx), the
Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), the
Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) and the
Bobcat (Lynx rufus).
on the pictures above to learn more about the lynxes!
The Eurasian lynx
Eurasian Lynx is native to northern European and Siberian forests and plains.
Along with the wolf and the brown bear the Eurasian Lynx is one of the largest
carnivores living on the European continent. The Eurasian Lynx, also called
Northern Lynx, is the biggest of the lynxes, ranging in length between 80 and
120 centimetres. The tail of the Eurasian Lynx is rather short in comparison to
other cats. Characteristics of the Eurasian Lynx are black tufts of hair on its
ears and large furred paws which in winter act like snowshoes. The colour of
the lynx’s coat can vary depending on the seasons; in winter the coat has a
greyish-silver colour and is relatively long and in summer the coat tends to be
more brightly coloured changing between a brownish-red and a grey. Generally
the black or brown spots are more intense in the summer months, although the
pattern and number of spots can be highly variable between individuals.
with other lynxes, the Eurasian lynx usually hunt, usually nocturnally, by
stalking, sneaking and jumping on prey. Their most common prey includes
rabbits, rodents, hares, foxes, roe deer and reindeer, of which they need up to
three kilograms of meat per day (adult).
the middle of the 19th century the Eurasian Lynx had been extirpated
in most countries of Western and Central Europe, but resettlement projects
ensured that lynxes were successfully reintroduced to the forests and mountains
of Germany, the Czech Republic,
Switzerland and France. The
most recent approximation of the population size of the Eurasian Lynx was 7000
individuals, with the highest densities found in the remote regions of Romania, the Carpathian Mountains and Finland.
intensive farming in Central and Western Europe
plays a decisive role in whether or not the Eurasian Lynx will again be a
permanent resident in our forests. We must not see the Lynx as a threat; rather
we should accept this wild cat as an important part of the ecosystem. Only then
the Lynx will be able to regain its original habitat.
The Iberian lynx
is rapidly running out for the Iberian Lynx. If the conservation initiatives
are not successful in working together to pool resources and secure wild areas
with abundant prey and if they are not successful in changing the negative
public opinion into one of support, then the Iberian Lynx will disappear from
planet Earth. 10.000 years after the extinction of the saber-toothed cat the
Iberian Lynx is going to be the next wild cat to die out.
the 19th century the Iberian lynx was distributed over the entire Iberian Peninsula. In the 1960s approximately 3000 Lynxes
were still living in Spain
Nowadays the Iberian Lynx is listed as a critically endangered species; in 2002
estimates put the population size as low as 200 individuals.
cutting and burning of the Mediterranean grasslands, holm oaks and cork oaks as
well as the intensive farming and irrigation in Spain
has deprived the Iberian Lynx of it natural habitat. Additionally the decline
of its most common prey, the rabbit (due to myxomatosis), has had a devastating
effect on lynx populations. In Portugal
the Iberian Lynx is extinct already. The only remaining breeding populations
are to be found in the Donana National park and in the Sierra de Andujar in
Andalusia, both of which are in Spain.
colour of the coat varies between a brownish-yellow and grey and has very
characteristic leopard-like spots; furthermore the coat is notably shorter than
in other lynxes. Thus the Iberian Lynx is well adapted to its environment and
the hot and dry climate in Spain.
all other lynxes the Iberian Lynx features the dark tufts of hair on its ears
which help to detect sources of sound. In comparison to the Eurasian Lynx the
Iberian Lynx is rather short; the male is larger than the female, with an
average weight of approximately 12 kilograms.
to the fact that the Iberian Lynx is smaller than its northern relatives, it
hunts only small animals. The European rabbit is its main prey, but it also
hunts other small mammals, birds and reptiles at twilight. The Iberian Lynx
needs about one kilogram of meat which equates to one rabbit per day; however a
female that is rearing cubs will eat up to three rabbits per day.
the cubs are born between the months of March and September. A litter consists
of two to three cubs weighing between 200 to 250 grams and they remain with
their mother until they are around 20 months old. The survival of the young
lynxes depends on the rabbit population in their habitat. If the European
rabbit disappears from the Iberian Peninsula,
this will mean the certain end of the Iberian Lynx. The loss of the lynx´s
habit has placed further pressure on the dwindling population of this highly
endangered wild cat. Without the intervention of conservation breeding programs
and the support of dedicated and committed individuals, this charismatic cat
will lose its grip be lost to us forever.
The Canada lynx
Canada Lynx is found in the northern part of the USA as well as in the forests
of Canada and Alaska. With its dense silvery-brown coat the Canada Lynx is
perfectly adapted to its environment. The Canada Lynx is smaller than its
European cousin though it also shows the characteristic traits: a
double-pointed beard, a short tail with a black tip and the long furry tufts on
its ears. With its long legs with broad furred feet the Canada Lynx can travel
through deep snow without difficulties.
Canada Lynx will hunt every one to two days; feeding predominantly on rodents,
birds, snowshoe hares and sometimes it even hunts deer.
Canada lynx is trapped for
its fur, but it also gets shot by hunters when getting too close to cattle or
deer herds. In contrast to its relatives on the European continent the Canada
Lynx is not yet listed as a threatened or critically endangered species.
like the Canada Lynx the Bobcat is also living on the North American continent.
It ranges from southern Canada
to northern Mexico. The
Bobcat is a very adaptable predator that inhabits not only forests and mountain
regions, but also deserts, plains and swamplands - it can also be seen in the
suburbs of larger cities.
all cats the Bobcat marks its territory with urine, droppings and by the help
of scratch marks.
Bobcat is smaller than the European Lynx and the Canada Lynx, but it is about
twice as large as a domestic cat. The colour of the coat is variable depending
on the region of the habitat; it is mostly greyish-brown with black streaks on
the body and bobcats in the desert regions of the southwest have lighter
Bobcat hunts animals of different sizes depending on its habitat; the most
predominant prey are rodents, squirrels, birds, fish, small deer and even
typically live to six or eight years of age; apart from man, they have
virtually no natural enemies. The Bobcat has long been valued for fur and
sport; in the southern parts of the United States the Bobcat is still
extensively hunted. Nevertheless, the Bobcat maintains a high population due to
its good adaptability to different environments. Up until today the Bobcat is
not yet considered a threatened species.