The survival of the rare Balkan lynx, of which 100 members at most live in the wilds of Macedonia and Albania, is critically endangered. However, initiatives aimed at battling the causes of their disappearance are underway.
Long seen as an unofficial national symbol in Macedonia, the Balkan lynx - a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx, is featured on both a postal stamp and a coin. With a short tail, long legs and thick neck, the tufts of hair on both ears are the defining characteristic of the lynx.
“The Balkan lynx population, estimated at about 100 individuals, lives in Albania, Macedonia and parts of Serbia-Montenegro in isolation from the lynx populations of Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia,” according to the European Nature Heritage Fund – EuroNatur, a non-profit foundation. “While the latter are derived from reintroduced specimen from the Carpathian Mountains, the Balkan lynx is represents the original subspecies of lynx indigenous to the Balkan Mountains.”
Although, as reported by the Scientific American magazine, the species is legally protected in both Albania and Macedonia, its rarity has also made it misunderstood and easily targeted. “There seems to be a lack of knowledge about the species and the legislation,” Manuela von Arx of the Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme (BLRP) said.
There is a monitoring scheme underway in western Macedonia’s Mavrovo National Park and in Albania in cooperation with the Swiss-based research group KORA, EuroNatur and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. In addition to determining the cats’ status via camera data, research and interviews, the project aims to establish protected areas for the animal and help local authorities develop a conservation strategy.
While a more detailed protection plan is expected to be completed by the end of the year, the BLRP is currently focusing on education and awareness to battle the causes of the species’ extinction. More....