Rare encounter of wolf and lynx shows return of wildlife in Europe

Posted on 12 April 2016

EU laws helped them bounce back from extinction
The exceptional encounter between the highly threatened wolf and a family of lynx in Europe’s wild forests was caught on a video released today by WWF [1]. Both predators have bounced back from the brink of extinction in Europe thanks to strong protection, but they are still at risk. The recovery of wildlife in Europe witnessed by these images is the indisputable signal of a restored healthy and balanced ecosystem that should be further protected, says WWF. 

The video shows the “wild ancestors” of our dogs and cats meeting together in the snowy forests of the Carpathian Mountains [2] in Poland. It was produced by the biologist and video-photographer Zenek Wojtas, who commented on this unique encounter saying:

“Observing wild lynx and wolves in their natural habitat is extremely difficult and rare. I often spend months in freezing conditions to see animals in nature. This encounter is unique as it gives us an insight into the harmony that exists in nature, where predators can live in the same habitat without harming each other. As the wolf slowly walked towards the female lynx, she arched her back to protect her kittens, as all mothers would do. It was not a fight, the wolf only wanted to play.”

The Eurasian Lynx and the Grey Wolf populations had gone almost extinct in some parts of Europe, making it necessary for them to be protected under the EU Nature Directives, Europe’s key nature legislation. According to WWF’s estimates there are currently about 1000 wolves and 200 lynx living in Poland.

Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF European Policy Office said:
“The return of these powerful and splendid animals in Europe is an enormous success after years of conservation effort. We cannot run the risk to lose them again; they are fundamental species to keep our natural ecosystem in balance. Our leaders have a responsibility to make sure that Europe’s wild nature is given the space and protection it needs to thrive safely.”

WWF is currently campaigning (3) to ensure that the EU Nature Laws that protect species such as the wolf and the lynx, and thousands of natural areas are safeguarded and fully implemented at the national level. A recent WWF report showed that unsustainable industrial activities, including deforestation, agriculture and energy exploitations, are putting at threat some of the most valuable natural areas globally and in Europe. WWF is calling for strong legal measures to stop such harmful destruction.

Notes to editors:
  1. The video is available on WWF YouTube after embargo time and here for media upload and here with WWF logo. The video can be used only with copyright WWF/Zenek Wojtas.
  2. The Danube basin up to the Carpathian Mountains represents the Green Heart of Europe. It includes many of Europe’s most spectacular remaining wilderness areas and some of the largest remaining areas of virgin and natural forests. They are home to two-thirds of the European populations of bears, lynx and wolves.
  3. WWF EU campaign.  WWF is currently leading a European campaign aiming at protecting the EU Birds and Habitats Directives (EU Nature Directives) against a possible weakening. The European Commission is currently undertaking an evaluation of both Directives (Fitness Check) to assess whether they are effective in protecting nature. Until now half a million people, at least 12 EU governments and the EU parliament have opposed any change in the laws and have asked for their better implementation across all EU member states.
    • Among the species that the EU Nature Directives have contributed to protecting in Europe there are the wolf, the lynx, the bear and the loggerhead turtle. These species will receive special attention in April, May and June 2016 by WWF with a view to raising awareness and support their protection. For more, please visit beauties of nature and the wolf section.
    • Wolves and lynx are keystone species. They play an essential role in the structure, functioning or productivity of a habitat or ecosystem at a defined level (habitat, soil, seed dispersal, etc). The contribution of the wolf to the delivery of ecosystem services, for example in reducing natural over-grazing in forests and the damage of wild boar to agriculture, should not be underestimated.

For further information:
Catherine Joppart, Media and Communications, cjoppart@wwf.eu, +32 2 743 88 10
Stefania Campogianni, Senior Media and Communications fficer, scampogianni@wwf.eu, +32 499 53 97 36

Website: www.wwf.eu
Twitter: @WWFEU
Once the world’s most widely distributed mammal, the grey wolf has been reduced by one-third.
© Gunther Kopp / WWF German
There are only about 200 lynx in Poland, out of some 9000 in Europe
© Programa de cria, WWF Spain