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Lynx UK Trust

Lynx UK Trust

Essa is a passionate supporter of Lynx UK Trust, a recent non-profitable organisation, working in aid of reintroducing the European Lynx to the UK. All words and info below through years of personal research by author- ESSA ZAHIR (August 2016).

"Nature & wildlife has always been my passion, inspiration and source of spiritual fulfilment. Cats, especially the Lynx feature heavily in my art. Its unique characteristics, tufted ears, facial riffs, short tail, fur type and colours result in a beautiful and mesmerising creation of nature. Once native to the UK, I could only dream such a creature could ever return to our shores. I hope with all my heart, its reintroduction is a success and British people come to embrace the magic of the Lynx for generations to come. Let us also keep in mind, it's not just for the cat - but for us" 

The aim

Current proposals are in early stages and in full consultation with all relative authorities. Initial proposals for reintroduction are for North of England and into Scotland.

Historical Lynx in the UK: short history

After the end of the last ice age, the United Kingdom looked very different to what it does at present. The entire landmass was covered by forest, inhabiting wild creatures, such as the Brown Bear, Moose, Wild Boar, European Bison, Lynx, Wolf, Wildcat (Scottish Wildcat) Pine Marten and Polecat to name but a few of the natural species.

As man multiplied and farming replaced 'hunting & gathering' forests began to wither and disappear. This led to the demise of predators, beginning with the Brown Bear, then the Lynx, then the Wolf as well as the larger herbivores. The smaller predators like the Wildcat and Pine Marten became confined in remote regions whereas before, their reign was right across the UK landmass: Wildcat and Pine Marten to Scotland, Polecat to Wales.

With the introduction of non-native herbivores, such as Rabbit and various Deer species by Romans for food and hunting (excluding Red Deer and Roe Deer: native) the natural balance of prey & predator was lost, leading to further demise of the natural habitat.

Today, all Deer populations are heavily managed in culls, due to their immense impact on the land, preventing the natural growth of trees and forests (reforestation).

The Wild Boar has also made an 'unofficial return' in the sense that they have resettled in parts of UK as a result of escaping from farms (bred for their meat) rather than being a part of formal reintroduction.

Lynx is a good choice of predator to consider as a natural predator of Deer and Wild Boar. They are also good control on Fox populations as Lynx hunt them for food.

Human fears? (common concerns amongst the public)

How large is the Lynx?

Between 80 - 100cm long, including head and tail, weighing between 18 - 23kg (stomach content not counted: variable). Males tend to be larger and stockier than females. Lynx are classed as 'medium sized cats'.

What are the threats to man?

Wild Lynx are infamous for their shy and elusive nature, avoiding man as a crucial part of their survival strategy. At the presence of man on their turf, they flee long before anyone knew they were there. The only reported incident/s of attack on people are extraordinarily rare and almost always associated with the animal being inflicted with 'rabbis'. Even in the event, someone was to confront a grown cat in a 'confined space' (cat unable to flee: unnatural circumstance) Lynx display warnings by stamping their paws at the ground, spitting and hissing and if that doesn't work, they mock charge. It's not the animal, but the 'sensibility' or lack of, by the human counterpart.

What are the threats to livestock?

Studies across the wild Lynx natural range show, they prefer their own natural prey as it's what they become accustomed to, first through 'taste & scent' at weaning, then through being taught what and how to hunt by their mums. 'Wild game' has taste and scents different to farm livestock that have been bred out of animals over millennia to make the meat more palatable to changing human tastes. And here is where much misconception in general public arises - not being able to differentiate behavioural patterns between a "zoo escape" and a wild Lynx!

Needless to add, it is not zoo animals being let loose - but stock from wild animals that have retained their natural instincts, tastes and behaviours and kept with as little human contact as possible that retain their fears of man

British reintroduction, aiming for the North of England and into Scotland is ideal habitat, given its wide spaces and abundance of Lynx natural prey. Having said that, wild Lynx do on occasions take livestock for food, but there are usually reasons associated with that. as wild Lynx breed and offspring grow and disperse, they have to find their own home range away from their parents. Within that 'time period' before they have established their own turf and in shortage or absence of their natural prey, they may take livestock as the easier option if they come across them. But that behaviour tends to be temporary and fizzles out. Another pointer is 'high infant mortality' among Lynx. One out of three cubs may survive to adulthood, which makes Lynx 'low impact' predators on both wild prey and livestock.

Why let a predator loose to murder our already established wildlife?

To protect the land, promote regeneration of natural forests, help to control herbivore excess whilst encouraging 'healthier blood' in other animals and restore a richer eco system.

At greater depth

Predators tend to catch and kill animals with slower reflexes, resulting from old age, disease or abundance of young (too many for their mums to defend). Herbivore reproduction and very genetic health is tuned to weakest dying off, being taken by predators - in a way accounted for by nature and dependent on predators to weed out the weakest. in absence of natural predation, inbreeding and disease can have detrimental long term effects on wild species. Culling by man is not the same thing as humans can not 'test' their individual subjects like a predator does before taking them out. Healthy animals with vital good genes may end up being culled, whilst diseased animals may survive to breed and pass on weak genes.

Lynx verses our endangered Scottish Wildcat?

The Scottish Wildcat is a subspecies of the European Wildcat, and Lynx has always been a natural co-habitor of the Wildcat.

It may interest readers to learn that the Scottish Wildcats with the most percentage of Wildcat gene (up to 97%) only exist in captivity!

Scottish Wildcats that roam the land vary in "purity" having bred with feral domestic cats since their introduction and expansion into wilder areas. They vary in purity from 65% and dropping to lesser and lesser ratios. As a result, the protection of the Scottish Wildcat has become an issue. Because the "pure breds" in captivity are the last remaining gems. If they release them, the likely event is that they will breed with lesser cats, or feral cats and corrupt the bloodline forever...

LYNX: The Protector!

Had the Lynx not vanished from the North (Scotland at least) the Scottish Wildcat would have not been in the predicament it is today as Lynx would have killed off feral domestic cats intruding into its territory!

With my unbiased and very scientific view, if somewhat controversial, I can only see the Lynx being part of the solution to this problem.

To those who handle the Scottish Wildcat and are familiar with its characteristics know that it's no 'pushover'. Far from it. The purer the cat, the larger, more aggressive and shier they are, very able to co-habit the turf of the Lynx. The weaker, the less likely. But wouldn't that actually kill the "disease" off, whilst making room for the pure breds to flourish?

We have decades of close observation and tracking to assess what impact Lynx may or may not have on its environment.


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