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Lynx, Eurasian

Lynx, EurasianWhile all the lynx species are similar in appearance, specialization for different prey has led to a divergence in life history and social organization. Only in the extreme northern parts of the Eurasian cats range are there ecological similarities with the smaller Canada lynx Lynx canadensis.The Eurasian cat tends to have more dark, distinct spotting on its coat than the Canadian, and this is shown to the extreme in the Iberian, or Spanish lynx Lynx pardinus, which is always heavily spotted. Northern animals tend to be greyer and less spotted than southern animals. In the southwest part of their range, three coat patterns are recognized - predominantly spotted, predominantly striped and unpatterned.

Zoological name: Lynx lynx

Species: There are about seven subspecies, but, like all subdivisions of species, they are not universally accepted;
- F. (L.) l. lynx Scandinavia, Russia, Northern Europe and Iraq
- F. (L.) l. dinniki North Caucasus and Iraq
- F. (L.) l. koslowi Irkutsk
- F. (L.) l. isabellinus Pakistan, central Asia and Mongolia
- F. (L.) l. sardiniae Sardinia
- F. (L.) l. stroganovi Russia
- F. (L.) l. wrangelli East Siberia

Presence on the planet: The Eurasian lynx was once found in the forested areas throughout most of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. However today the range of the cat has been drastically reduced in Europe and they are only to be found in some of the northern countries, parts of Greece and Czechoslovakia. Recently the cat has been reintroduced to parts of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, where it is beginning to re-establish.
Lynx, Eurasian
Habitat: With one of the widest ranges of all cat species, Eurasian lynx prefer deciduous forest or old growth taiga and mixed woodlands, with plenty of undergrowth for cover. They are also found throughout the northern slopes of the Himalayas to an elevation of 2,500 metres, alpine tundra, rocky areas above the tree line, the mountains of the central Asian desert region and the entire Tibetan Plateau. The Iberian subspecies is restricted to open forests of juniper, pine and pistachio scrub in southwestern Spain and a few scattered areas in Portugal.

Physical Description: The Eurasian lynx is the largest of the lynxes. Adult males weigh on average 21.6 kg (n=103), while females are slightly smaller at 18.1 kg (n=93). The lynxes of eastern Siberia consistently reach the greatest size. The Eurasian lynx has relatively long legs, and large feet which provide a "snowshoe effect", allowing for more efficient travel through deep snow. In winter, the fur grows very densely on the bottom of the feet . The coat is greyish, with tint varying from rusty to yellowish.

Diet: In some parts of their range, lynx prey mainly on large ungulate species (mostly females or young), including red deer, reindeer , and argali . Lynx are capable of killing prey 3-4 times their own size.

Reproduction & Offspring: One to four kittens are born in May of June following a gestation period which averages 69 days. They become independent at about ten months and themselves begin reproducing about a year later.

Conservation status: As a species, this lynx is not endangered, but in some parts of its range it has become extremely rare and may not survive unless active measures are taken to conserve it. Many areas from which lynxes had disappeared have been recolonised when conditions once again became favourable.

Life span: more than 20 years
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Lynx are also legally hunted in some countries. In Finland, where the population grew from virtually zero in the 1950's to over 500 lynx thirty years later, special hunting licenses are issued. In the former Yugoslavia, a release program in 1973 increased the population to the extent that hunting is now allowed. In Sweden, excessive hunting and the feline panleucopaenia virus resulted in a severe drop in the population and they are now protected there. Studies have shown that these cats are quick to rebound if hunting pressures are lessened, and protected areas set aside.

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