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Cub photo raises hope for Europe’s rarest and largest wild cat

Photo by: Panajot Chorovski

A first cub photo in over a decade of Europe’s largest and rarest cat, a wild Balkan lynx, raises hopes for the surival of this critically endangered animal.

With less than 50 cats remaining in the wild in the mountains of the Western Balkans, this subspecies of the eurasian lynx is close to extinction.

The lynx  faces habitat loss, illegal hunting, and revenge killing by farmers whose domestic animals they sometimes attack.

Just two years ago a cub was stoned by a local shepherd on Munella mountain in Albania — the only recent evidence of this subspecies rearing young.

Fight for survival

The biggest challenge is the population’s small size and low survival of cubs, says Mareike Brix from EuroNatur, who have been working on the protection of Balkan lynx for a decade with their partners. “Only 25 per cent of all kittens born reach adulthood,“ says Brix.

But now, a picture of a new live cub has been captured in a second location, the Mavrovo National Park in neighbouring Macedonia, suggesting there is a healthy reproducing population there.

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Cat of the month

Asian Golden Cat (Pardofelis Temminckii)

The Asian Golden Cat lives throughout Southeast Asia, ranging from Tibet and Nepal to Southern China, India, and Sumatra. It prefers forest habitats interspersed with rocky areas, and is found in deciduous, subtropical evergreen, and tropical rainforests. The Asian Golden Cat is sometimes found in more open terrain. It ranges from the lowlands to altitudes of up to 3000 meters in the Himalayas.

The Asian Golden Cat is a medium-sized wild cat weighing from 12 to 16 kilograms (26 to 35 lbs). In captivity this species can live up to 20 years, but its average lifespan in the wild is likely far shorter. While the fur is mostly foxy red or golden brown, black or grey colour variants may also be found. Normally, the coat is plain, save for some spots on the underside, and sometimes very faint spotting on the rest of the coat. However, in China there is a colour variant with leopard-like-like spots, which resembles a leopard cat.

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