Protecting the Balkan lynx

The last few of its kind

© Gabriel Schwaderer
© Gabriel Schwaderer

The present distribution of the Balkan lynx (Lynx lynx balcanicus) very largely matches the course of the Balkan Green Belt between Albania and Macedonia, and also between Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. This is where EuroNatur is actively championing the protection of lynxes and their habitats. No one can say precisely how many Balkan lynxes there still are. But according to scientific estimates there are probably under 35 – tending to decline: which makes the Balkan lynx, a subspecies of the Euarasian Lynx, one of the rarest cats on earth.

 

 

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The pressure is great

The lynx is endangered in several ways. Because the forests are being overused for firewood and construction – particularly in Albania – sufficiently large-ranging and contiguous habitats have  disappeared. For the same reason prey is getting scarce and this situation is exacerbated still further by the mainly illegal hunting of the shrinking number of wild animals which are its prey. The lynx, too, is often the victim of poachers keen to carry off a rare trophy or who see the lynx as responsible for attacks on domestic animals. Very, very few people are aware that the Balkan lynx is close to extinction or that it is under protection.

What actions is EuroNatur taking for the protection of the Balkan lynx?

  • Protecting existing habitats: We are driving forward the establishment of trans-boundary conservation areas in the mountainous border regions of Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo.
  • Further strengthening the Balkan Green Belt as a biotope network in order to preserve habitats for the lynx.
  • Creating well-founded databases: Reliable information on the habitats, distribution and occurence of the Balkan lynx and of its prey is rare and too little is so far known about the attitude of the local population to these rare feline predators.
  • Developing effective protection measures: the scientific data on habitats, distribution and numbers of Balkan lynx and of its prey are the basis for the development of protective measures adapted to the situation. 
  • Building local capacity: for a long-term protection of the Balkan lynx and its habitats we train nature protection experts in the various countries, working with our partners there. The training covers lynx protection, lynx monitoring and the management of protected areas.


What we have so far achieved – a selection of important successes

  • The designation of a number of important lynx habitats as protected areas has already been achieved or is now close to achievement. 
  • Working with our partners in intensive field studies we have contributed significantly to extending existing knowledge on the Balkan lynx.
  • In the meantime in both Albania and Montenegro there are competent partners who are devoting their energies to long-term protection for the Balkan lynx.
  • In February 2014 Albania decided to ban all hunting throughout the whole country for two years.


Partners: PPNEA (Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania), MES (Macedonian Ecological Society), NINA (Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, KORA  (Carnivore Ecology and Wildlife Management)

Sponsoring: Mava Foundation, EuroNatur donors and sponsors

 

 

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