The Slovenia Times

International project to help lynx population recover


Presenting the Life Lynx project to the press, its managers in Slovenia said that the lynx was endangered in Slovenia and the neighbouring countries primarily because of inbreeding and that relocation from more stable populations was the only option.

The initiative to preserve the biggest European feline in Slovenia is being managed by the national Forest Service, the Hunting Association of Slovenia and the University of Ljubljana.

Rok Černe of the Forest Service said that ten lynxes from Slovakia and Romania would be relocated to two areas in Slovenia and five to one area in Croatia.

"We will preserve the lynx only if these populations get connected and if the genetic material gets exchanged", he said.

The animals will be monitored as they will be equipped with GPS devices, Černe said, adding that the salvaging of the lynx population in the Alps and Dinarides would take place in close cooperation with hunters and locals.

He has assessed that there are between 10 and 20 lynxes in Slovenia at the moment, and between 40 and 60 in Croatia.

According to Tomaž Skrbinšek of the Ljubljana Biotechnology Faculty, they are an important element of biodiversity, and the project would ensure a greater genetic diversity and, consequently, prevent their extinction.

The lynx population on the territory of present-day Slovenia was brought to extinction at the beginning of the 20th century, with hunters starting to think about repopulating the area with the species at the beginning of the 1970s.

In 1973, six lynxes were released in the woods near Kočevje in the south.

"The reintroduction of the lynx in Slovenia was long considered a success story, both at the European and global level. Soon after being reintroduced, the lynx spread all the way from the Alps to Montenegro. The population was growing. The species was actually introduced in an area where the conditions were ideal."

But Skrbinšek noted that populations of such small sizes, as those created with relocations often are, encountered to problem of inbreeding in the long-term.

"Genetic diversity is being lost. The population is losing its adaptability, the survival and reproduction rate declines," he explained.


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