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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

Marble Cat (Pardofelis Marmorata)

The range of the Marbled Cat extends from Northeast India, with subspecies in Nepal, and through Southeast Asia including Borneo and Sumatra, linked to the mainland of Asia. It is similar in size to the domestic cat, with a longer, more thickly furred tail. Its fur pattern is blotched and banded like a marble and usually compared to the markings of the much larger Clouded Leopard. In colour, the base fur ranges from pale yellow to brownish grey with lighter under parts being a lighter variation. The weight is about 4,5 kg (10lbs).

Closest relatives of the Marbled cat are the Asian Golden Cat and the Bay cat, members of the genus Catopuma.

The forest provide the Marbled Cat with much of its prey: birds, squirrels, other rodents and reptiles. It is rarely sighted in its densely forested habitat and so little studied or understood. It’s population is estimated under 10.000 mature individuals. Due to its forested habitats that have been shrinking, the Marbled Cat is listed as vulnerable in IUCN.

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