Siberian Lynx

Lynx lynx (Eurasian Lynx), 28 January 2011. By Böhringer Friedrich

The Siberian Lynx (Lynx lynx wrangeli) is a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx. They inhabit Siberia east of the Yenisei River and in other parts of Russia. The climate is frequently very cold. Eurasian lynxes are the largest of all lynxes. Males weigh upwards of 65 lbs. (about 30 kg); have a height of 30 in. (75 cm) at the shoulder, and a length of 50 in. (130 cm). The Siberian subspecies gets particularly big with males reaching as much as 90 lbs. Their paws are wide, enabling them to walk across snow. Long tuffs of fur sprout from the tips of their ears. Their bodies display an interesting assortment of colors and patterns. These can be yellowish, grayish, or rusty in color with patterns of spots, stripes, or without a notable pattern. Siberians are typically more gray and white in appearance. The fur thickens considerably during winter.

Mating happens usually during the months of February and March. The cats will select dens that provide relative safety, such as rocky crags or in heavy underbrush. Females give birth to one to four young. The kittens will be able to walk within a month’s time.

Siberian lynxes are strict carnivores. The lynxes rely heavily on stealth to hunt. They will prey on small to large game and are capable of taking down animals significantly larger than they are. Their adaptability has allowed them to live in many different terrains. Their habitats include deciduous or coniferous forests, semi-deserts, frigid mountains, and arctic tundra.

Eurasians have one of the widest ranges, historically living all through Europe and Asia. Their broad range has helped maintain overall populations of the species. In Russia alone their number surpasses 30,000. The IUCN Red List, which tracks the status of species worldwide, presently categorizes the Eurasian Lynx as least concern. Despite this fact, the species faces dangers. It has largely disappeared or declined in many of their traditional habitats in Western Europe. The exact status of the Siberian lynx subspecies is up to debate. As is often the case, poaching, prey depletion, and habitat destruction are a problem. History has shown that any species can be quickly devastated. The last century has seen a marked downturn in the numbers of various subspecies. One of these, the Balkan lynx, is currently listed as critically endangered. The population of the Balkans appears to be fewer than 50 individuals.

One group seeks to reverse this decline. Kora Carnivore Ecology and Wildlife Management is a nonprofit group that has championed Eurasian lynxes for over 30 years. Its cofounder and director, Urs Breitenmoser, a 25-year veteran in carnivore conservation, has led the way. Kora works to reintroduce the lynxes to places in Europe where it has become either extinct or endangered. Reduction in hunting has sparked increases in lynx numbers as well. The group additionally has strove to save the Balkan lynx population with these methods. They are a big reason why the Eurasian lynx populations have not declined further.