lynx (France); luchs (Germany); lince (Spanish); sinokoi (Ainu: Sakhalin island); lusan (Armenia); meshag, mesh (Azerbaijan); tsogde (Baltistan: Pakistan); shihli (Chinese); ilves (Finland); lynx (French); potskhveri (Georgia); varchakh (Farsi: Iran); lince (Italy); silovsin, suloosun (Kazakh; Kyrgyz, Uzbek); yi (Ladakhi: India); phiauku (Lahul: India); shleleisin (Mongolia); gaupe (Norway); patsalam (Kashmiri); rys (Russian: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Russia, Slovenia); lodjur (Sweden); vasak (Turkey); su laisun (Uygur).
Description and Behavior:
There are three main coat patterns: predominantly spotted, predominantly striped, and unpatterned. While the
spotted-striped types, controlled by the "Tabby" gene, predominate in present reintroduced European lynx populations
(originating mainly from the Carpathian mountains further east), Ragni et al. (1993) show through
examination of 26 pelts of the original, now extinct, populations of the European Alps that these animals were chiefly
unpatterned, and were, moreover, smaller in size.
Eurasian lynx have long, prominent black ear tufts, and short black-tipped tails. Lynx activity peaks in the evening
and morning hours, with resting mainly around mid-day and midnight (Bernhart 1990).
In some parts of their range, lynx prey mainly on large ungulate species (mostly females or young), including red deer
(Hell 1973, Gossow and Honsig-Erlenburg 1986, Jedrzejewski et al. 1993), reindeer (Haglund 1966,
Bjärvall 1992), and argali (Matjuschkin 1978). Lynx are capable of killing prey 3-4 times their own size
(Gossow and Honsig-Erlenburg 1986, Haller 1992).
While all the lynx species are similar in appearance, the Eurasian lynx bears the closest morphological resemblance to the
Canada lynx (Kurtén and Rausch 1959), and the two are very often treated as conspecific. However, Breitenmoser
and Breitenmoser- Würsten (in prep.) argue convincingly that the two are ecologically separate species. Specialization
for different prey has led to a divergence in life history and social and spatial organization. Unlike the Canada lynx, the Eurasian
lynx has a "phenotype set" typical of a large felid (Sunquist and Sunquist 1989): it is large, long-lived, kills prey at
least half its own body weight, forages over wide areas, and generally exists at low densities. Only in some parts of its range,
chiefly the northern boundary, is there ecological similarity between the Eurasian and Canada lynxes in their predation on
cyclically fluctuating hare populations.
Gestation: (C) average 69 days (Hemmer 1976).
Interbirth interval: (W) generally one year, but with occasional breaks, e.g., three years with litters, one without
(Switzerland: U. Breitenmoser in litt. 1993).
Age at independence: (W) 10 months (Switzerland: Breitenmoser et al. 1993a).
Age at first reproduction: (W) females 20-24 months (Kvam 1991, U. Breitenmoser in litt. 1993);
males approximately 30 months (Kvam 1991).
Juvenile mortality: (W) Breitenmoser et al. (1993a) found high rates of juvenile mortality for a lynx
population living in a densely settled area of Switzerland: 50% pre-dispersal (n=14 kittens); 80% post-dispersal (n=5 sub-adults).
Recruitment rates: 0.69(Breitenmoser et al. 1993a) - 1.25-1.5 (Kvam 1990) juvenile lynx per
female per year.
Age at last reproduction: (W) females 14 years (n=1); males 16-17 years (n=1: U. Breitenmoser in litt.
Longevity: W - up to 17 years (Kvam 1990, U. Breitenmoser in litt. 1993); C - up to 24 years
Habitat and Distribution:
The Eurasian lynx has one of the widest ranges of all cat species, with approximately 75% of the range within the borders
of Russia (Figure 5). Lynx have been recorded
as far north as 72°N, near the edge of the continental landmass (Zheltuchin 1992).
Global: Category 5b
The stronghold of the Eurasian lynx is a broad strip of southern Siberian woodland stretching through Russia from the
Ural mountains to the Pacific. The Russian population has been estimated to be 36,000-40,000 (Matjuschkin 1978,
Zheltuchin 1992), but it is not clear how these figures were derived (U. Breitenmoser pers. comm.).
Heptner and Sludskii (1972) reviewed reports on lynx distribution in detail, and concluded that in Russia a major
population increase and range expansion (including the colonization of the entire Kamchatka peninsula) took place in the
1930s-1940s. Lynx re-colonized areas where they had previously been extirpated, mainly due to a sharp decline in
commercial hunting during this period of social upheaval.
In China, lynx are found throughout much of the country, concentrated in the montane regions. Given its wide distribution,
Tan Bangjie (in litt. 1987) and A. Abdukadir (in litt. 1993) are relatively optimistic, but emphasize that
in many places it has become locally rare. Ma Yiqing (pers. comm. 1992) believes populations are declining in the
north-east. G. Schaller (in litt. 1993) notes that lynx are the most commonly seen cat pelts in local fur markets in
Little information is available from the remainder of the lynx's wide Asian range. In Ladakh, Mallon's (1991) survey
indicates that it is rare in the central region, but Chundawat (1990a) found it locally common in dense thicket
scrub in the Nubra river valley. The lynxes of the Central Asian deserts and high mountains inhabit ecosystems very different
from the cold coniferous forests with which the species is primarily associated. They appear to prey mainly on hares and
rodents, rather than ungulates, but their ecology is little known (A. Abdukadir in litt. 1993, U. Breitenmoser pers. comm.)
. Bannikov (1954) described lynx as common in the desert hills of south-western Mongolia. Lynx are now
quite rare in the Caucasus (Z. Gurielidze and A. Bukhnicashvili in litt. 1993). Animals from this region, with their
small size, reddish coat, and heavy spotting, are sometimes recognized as the subspecies L.l. dinniki, and were once considered
conspecific with the spotted Iberian lynx, L. pardinus (Heptner and Sludskii 1972).
The most comprehensive data on species status is from the European sub-region (Breitenmoser and Breitenmoser-Würsten
1990, Anon. 1992b), where lynx are thinly distributed and isolated into discrete sub-populations
(Figure 6). The species was actually eradicated from
most of the sub-region within the past 150 years (Kratochvil 1968), surviving only in the north and the east. In these
regions, numbers fell in the early 1900s, but recovered concurrently with increases in small ungulate populations
(Breitenmoser and Breitenmoser-Würsten 1990). Lynx have since been reintroduced in several parts of western Europe,
the most extensive effort for any felid species (see Part II Chapter 6).
In northern Europe (Finland, Norway, Sweden, north-eastern Poland and the European region of the former USSR), the
population is stable and connected to the larger Siberian population. In central Europe, a relatively large but isolated population
is found in the Carpathian mountains (Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Ukraine). Small populations are found in the French Pyrenees
and Vosges mountains; the Jura mountains (France, Switzerland); the Alps (Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland); the Balkans
(Albania, Croatia and Slovenia); and the Bohemian forest (Czech Republic) (Breitenmoser 1991).
The most thorough estimates of resident adult density (per 100 km2), derived from radiotelemetry studies, are available from
Switzerland: 0.94 (Jura Mountains: Breitenmoser et al. 1993a); 1.2 (northern Alps: Haller and Breitenmoser 1986
); 1.43 (central Alps: Haller 1992). Based on snow tracking, Hjelm (1991) estimated 0.34-0.74
individuals/100 km2 in Sweden. Where ungulate prey is abundant, density estimates are high: 10-19 lynx/100 km2 in the
Bialowieza Forest in Poland and Byelorus (Heptner and Sludskii 1972).
Where hares are the major prey, density estimates from Russia are of the order of less than four lynx per 100 km2
Excluding outliers, Breitenmoser et al. (1993a) reported average home ranges for males of 264 + 23 km2, and 168
+ 64 km2 for females. Within these home ranges, core areas averaged 185 + 58 km2 for males, and 72 + 27 km2 for females.
Females tended to use the central part of their home ranges more intensively (Kaczensky 1991), whereas males
regularly visited the periphery of their home ranges (Dötterer 1992). Thus, male core areas averaged 70% of their
home ranges and showed some overlap, while those of females were exclusive, and averaged only 44% of their home ranges.
With the exception of the overlap zones, one male and one female shared the same area. On average, 86% of a female's home
range was covered by a male's home range. Studies from Sweden (Haglund 1966) and Russia (Matjuschkin 1978,
Zheltuchin 1984) have also concluded that males generally share their ranges with just one female and her kittens.
However, males seem to avoid female core areas, and thus appear to control a zone around females and their kittens, avoiding
competition for prey and excluding other male competitors (Breitenmoser et al. 1993a).
Protection Status: CITES Appendix II.
Hunting prohibited in protected areas only: Bhutan, Myanmar.
Zheltuchin (1992) reported that clear-cutting can have a negative effect on lynx abundance. In the Tver region, lynx
were stable and resident when the level of deforestation was approximately 25%. When 80% of an area was clear-cut, the
frequency of lynx tracks was about 15 times lower than in areas consisting of 40-50% mature forest cover.
Breitenmoser and Breitenmoser-Würsten (1990) review lynx predation on livestock for European countries, and
include information on the different ways it is dealt with by national authorities (see also Part II Chapter 2). Problems are most
severe in western Europe where lynx have been reintroduced. After native wild ungulates re-adapted to the presence of predators,
livestock killing increased, but later declined as lynx dispersed and became less concentrated. Overall stock losses are relatively
low in these countries, and are compensated either by the government or environmental groups. Switzerland, which invests
about US$35 million every year as a subsidy for sheep farming, pays out only about US$7,000 (Anon. 1994a) as annual
compensation for lynx kills (rates are agreed upon by stock owners). The problem is thus not really economic, but psychological and
political (Breitenmoser and Breitenmoser-Würsten 1990). For 100 years, Western European farmers have had the luxury
of not having to guard livestock against losses to predators. A prominent French farmer invited to speak at a symposium on the
lynx referred to it as "a savage and outdated animal" (Grosjean 1992).
There is no information beyond harvest reports on which to base an assessment of the biological impact of commercial trapping for
furs, and thus its significance as a threat is difficult to judge. In Russia, A. Zheltuchin (1992, and in Breitenmoser and
Breitenmoser-Würsten 1990) and Matjuschkin (1978) indicated that harvest levels range between 2,000-5,800
annually. The maximum harvest reported (1956: 5,800) is similar to harvests reported for 1985-86, which could indicate that the
lynx population has remained relatively stable. Annual harvests on the order of 5-6,000 have been reported in the Soviet Union
as long ago as 1956 and 1928 (Heptner and Sludskii 1972). Russia exports most of its reported harvest, averaging
about 5,000 pelts per year between 1985-1989 (WCMC unpubl. data). There was a surge in exports from China from 1984-
1988, with a peak of over 12,000 skins in 1986 (WCMC unpubl. data). This trade was probably in response to high pelt
prices prevailing at that time, when Canada lynx populations were at a cyclic low. Given that China lacks the organized trapping
infrastructure present in Russia, it is possible that the skins could have been taken originally in Siberia, unaccounted for in the official
harvest (U. Breitenmoser in litt. 1992).
Both China and Russia announced in 1993 the setting of export quotas for lynx furs: 2,800 per year from Russia, and 1,000 per year
from China (Anon. 1993b). Exports of lynx furs from these two countries are currently low, below 1,000 annually.
While lynx re-introduction in Switzerland has been considered a success, Breitenmoser et al. (1994) have found that the
population has stopped expanding, and is threatened by an imbalanced sex ratio (lack of males). The problems facing the Swiss lynx
population are discussed in Part II, Chapters 2, 3 and 6. In general, lynx adapt well to settled and cultivated areas if population levels
do not become too low. Lynx have been reported from the outskirts of Moscow, Leningrad and other large Russian towns
(Heptner and Sludskii 1972).
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