Flaviu Ghost Cat of Dartmoor – and his Swiss Cousins

Flaviu the lynx who three weeks ago gnawed his way to freedom only hours after arriving at Dartmoor Zoo, still eludes capture.

lynx uk big cat reintroduction sheep farmers ecology forests predator

His strange story just got even more mysterious with the appearance on the scene of a ‘secretive individual with expertise in tracking’, and ‘cutting-edge equipment’ which can detect heat emitted a whole kilometre away. He’s volunteered his services to the zoo. Zoo owner Benjamin Mee says, “I believe he travels the world doing this. He may also be a human tracker”.

It seems the man of mystery hopes to succeed where police, zoo staff and volunteers, helicopters, drones, traps, motion sensor cameras and his mother’s bedding recordings of her call have all so far failed to lure the elusive cat in from the wild.

Meanwhile further north, the Lynx UK Trust are hoping to reverse 1300 years of the animal’s extinction here, with a five year rewilding programme starting with the release shortly of three male and three female Eurasian lynx.

The Swiss are way ahead of us. They started their reintroduction programme in the 1970s, just 60 years after they lost their last cat. Although the Swiss lynx have expanded their range into France, their population has not exactly exploded – the Jura lynx today number just one hundred and thirty animals. To maintain a healthy gene pool the cats need access to other European populations. Which means wildlife corridors. That in turn requires cooperation between the different countries who are fortunate enough to play host to these beautiful creatures.

So this is where the European Biodiversity Directive comes in, which compels all member states to protect and restore populations of rare species. Here in the UK we need to ensure that Brexit does not allow the government to renege on the requirements of the EU Directives concerning our wildlife and wild spaces. If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition

French photographer Laurent Geslin has been tracking the cats of the Jura mountains for six years, and in all that time, this patient man has had but thirty sightings of the ‘Ghost Cats’, but nonetheless captured some stunning images, published in bioGraphic along with the Swiss lynx’s story, as told by Mike Unwin.

Laurent Geslin eurasian lynx big cat jura mountains switzerland wildlife

In spite of the relative smallness of the Swiss lynx population the positive effect of the ‘trophic cascade’ on biodiversity in the region is very much in evidence.

Laurent Geslin eurasian lynx cubs jura mountains switzerland big cats

The chief danger for the Swiss cats comes from farmers and hunters.Tragically, these beautiful little cubs and their mother were killed by hunters just one month after this photo was taken. “No lynx population in Europe will survive,” warns Breitenmoser, “if hunters actively oppose it.”

Laurent Geslin Eurasian lynx big cat predator prey deer Jura mountains Switzerland wildlife nature

Laurent Geslin eurasian lynx predator prey deer big cat jura mountains switzerland

Sign UK petition: Keep the EU Laws that Protect our Environment

Sign here to support rewilding the lynx – petition to Natural England & Scottish Natural Heritage

Read the full story and see more stunning photos of these awesome animals here

See the Independent for the ‘Man of ‘Mystery’ story

UPDATE 31st July 2016

From Freedom to Hell – Flaviu Captured

Related posts

UK Rewilding the Beautiful Lynx

What Happens to Animals When People Disappear?

The Wildlife Haven that’s the UK’s Best Kept Secret

Tiggywinkles, Tigers and Tunnels

Brexit – The Animals’ View

Read the full fascinating story and see more stunning photos of these beautiful animals here

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15 thoughts on “Flaviu Ghost Cat of Dartmoor – and his Swiss Cousins

  1. Have signed the petition. Environmental protection is an important EU legislation we need to protect. Along with a number of concerns leaving the EU is worrying regarding the environment, wildlife and animal welfare.

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  2. Swiss Lynx are now living in the Black Forest in Germany, I know this for a fact because a) I have seen some and b) DNA tests on dead Lynx (road kills and those from unknown causes) have proven their origin to the Swiss population. Wolves are also known to be living in Germany too.

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    1. Lucky you to have seen lynx Ralph! That is so interesting that they’ve reached the Black Forest. Thanks so much for sharing that information. I knew there has been a reintroduction programmed in the Harz mountains further north which apparently is doing very well. Good news! And wolves too. It seems there are now 31 wolf packs in Germany and experts reckon that in five years they will be in every district. I hope people learn how to live with them. Luckily Germany still classes them as endangered, so hunting them is illegal. Thanks again for your interesting comment.

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      1. I have a couple of photographs I can share with you but do not know how to post to you. I was not aware there were 31 packs of wolves, that is excellent news. In the Black Forest region I know there is at least one pack and several individual animals have been killed on the roads. I have made acquaintance with several local farmers and hunters in the Black Forest, they are aware of but entirely unphased by the presence of wolves and lynx in the region. Attitudes are changing. One farmer said to me that if the price of the return of the Lynx was the loss of a couple of lambs and adult sheep it was a price he was prepared to pay. He loses lambs and sheep every year due to winter and spring weather extremes and he suggested that lynx and wolves, red kites and buzzards largely ate these as carrion.

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  3. Wow! Thanks so much Ralph! That is all fascinating stuff, and GOOD news for a change. We get so much bad news about wildlife and the environment. Would you care to write a piece about your experiences in the Black Forest and include your photos? I would publish it on my Facebook page and share it will my groups if that’s ok with you. Are you on Facebook? Message me at Pam Radford – I’m the one with the “Animals are not freight” cover photo and the profile pic of a hand holding a paw.

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