Flaviu the lynx who three weeks ago gnawed his way to freedom only hours after arriving at Dartmoor Zoo, still eludes capture.
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.
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.
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.”
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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
Read the full fascinating story and see more stunning photos of these beautiful animals here