Eurasian lynx

The Eurasian lynx, one of Europe's largest predators, has bounced back from the brink of extinction in Europe but it is still critically endangered in some areas.

Eurasian lynx. Bayerischer Wald National Park, Germany. rel=
Eurasian lynx ( Lynx lynx), Bayerischer Wald National Park, Germany.
© Roger Leguen / WWF-Canon

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Key Facts

  • Common Name

    Eurasian lynx

  • Scientific Name

    Lynx lynx

  • Status

    Least concern; CITES Appendix II

    IUCN

  • Population

    Approximately 50,000

The Eurasian lynx is one of the widest ranging of all cat species. The population fell to a low of around 700 in Europe between 1930 and 1950.

Physical Description
The Eurasian lynx is the third largest predator in Europe after the brown bear and the wolf, and the largest of the 4 lynx species. It has a short body, long legs and large feet. The ears have a characteristic black tuft at the tip while the paws have sharp retractile claws. Fur is usually grey to red and more or less spotted.

Size
Weight: 15-28kg
Length: 90-110cm
Height: 60cm

Habitat
Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests, boreal forest

Biogeographic realm
Palearctic

Diet
The lynx feeds on small ungulates (hoofed mammals) such as roe deer, and smaller prey like hares where the former is scarce.

Population & Distribution
Over the past 50 to 80 years, autochthonous populations of lynx have made an impressive recovery in northern Europe, in the Carpathians and in north-east Europe, west of Russia, contributing to the 10-fold population increase during that period.

The Eurasian lynx has a wide range, extending across Europe, central Asia (it is distributed across the entire Tibetan plateau), Siberia and East Asia. In Europe, however, there is now limited connectivity between subpopulations.

Threats
The main threats to the Eurasian lynx are hunting and habitat loss. Although the population has benefitted from the ban on legal international fur trade, illegal hunting still represents a major threat.

Information reviewed by
Dr Urs Breitenmoser, Chair, IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group.

Range States

Afghanistan; Albania; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bhutan; Bosnia & Herzegovina; Bulgaria; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Estonia; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; India; Iran; Iraq; Italy; Kazakhstan; Korea; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Nepal; Norway; Pakistan; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Tajikistan; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan

What is WWF doing?

WWF works to raise awareness of the lynx in areas where is has previously suffered population declines. For example, in Switzerland Eurasian lynx was driven to extinction by hunting and persecution. The species has been reintroduced but the population remains small. WWF seeks to help reduce human/wildlife conflict and ensure the lynx can flourish once again.

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Did you know?

    • The sounds a lynx makes are very quiet and seldom heard
    • Lynx bury any uneaten prey and return the next day to finish it.

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