Yesterday I was invited to Dartmoor Zoo to discuss the possibility of joining their team to host talks and activities. Whilst I was there I spend a little bit of time wondering around getting to know the exhibits, and even got to hold a East African Land Snail (Achatina fulica)! One of the larger, fluffier creatures that caught my eye was the Siberian lynx.
The Siberian Lynx (Lynx lynx wrangelli), subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) is a solitary animal; inhabiting densely forested areas occasionally venturing onto rocky outcrops. Historically the Eurasian Lynx distribution stretched from the UK to China with the modern range still encompasses parts of Europe, the Middle East and Asia as far as the Tibetan Plateau.
Globally the Eurasian Lynx has been classified as ‘Least Concern’ with a population of 50,000 however the Lynx population of Western Europe has been greatly reduced or extirpated (locally extinct in a given geographical location). The Lynx is believed to have been hunted to extincting for its fur in the UK between 500-700AD. Occasionally isolated populations have been ‘rediscovered’ in areas, sometimes close to human settlements, due to their secretive nature and their vocalizations being quiet and seldom heard their presence may go unnoticed for years.
Recently we have been hearing in the news about an organisation called the Lynx UK Trust that is looking to reintroduce the species into the UK to ‘return a vital natural function to our ecology helping control numbers of deer and a variety of agricultural pest species whilst protecting forestry from deer damage caused by overpopulation.’ – Lynx UK Trust
They’re currently asking members of the public for their views on the prospect of reintroducing a once native species, you can find the survey along with more information here.