The Balkan lynx has faced the threat of extinction for more than a decade, but conflicts in the region in the 1990s and the preceding hardships prevented conservational action. The species -- which lives in Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo -- is estimated to number around 100, but some in the region say there are only around 40 of these beautiful cats in existence.
The Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme -- developed and implemented by several international and national NGOs in 2006 -- aims to protect the animal, which is struggling to survive the twin threats of poaching and loss of habitat.
Poachers prize the animal for its fur and have little fear of punishment, since nobody has ever been prosecuted for hunting it.
Encroaching deforestation also threatens the lynx, since it and its quarry inhabit the woods. The wildcats, which can reach a height of 65cm and weight of 25kg, prey mainly on roe deer and hares.
Although some rural dwellers consider the animal dangerous, there are no recorded instances of a Balkan lynx attacking a human and only four documented cases of one attacking a farm animal.
Switzerland's KORA, Germany's EuroNatur, the Macedonian Ecological Society and Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania are some of the conservation partners. More....