Lynx lynx


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Lynx lynx
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Eurasian Lynx
French Lynx Boréal, Lynx
Spanish Lince, Lince Boreal

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Breitenmoser, U., Mallon, D.P., von Arx, M. & Breitenmoser-Wursten, C.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Least Concern given its wide range. Although legal international fur exports have ended in recent years (UNEP-WCMC 2008), illegal hunting is widely considered the primary threat (Govt of US 2007). Some isolated European subpopulations are Critically Endangered or Endangered (IUCN 2007).
2002 Near Threatened

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Eurasian lynx has a very broad distribution from western Europe through the boreal forests of Russia, and down into central Asia and the Tibetan plateau (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Populations in the southeast of its range (Europe and southwest Asia) are generally small and widely separated, whereas the bulk of its historic range from Scandinavia through Russia and Central Asia is largely intact.

In Europe, it was probably absent from some of the larger islands such as Ireland and Sicily and from countries with few forests. It was also absent from the Iberian Peninsula, where the smaller Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus occurs. Lynx have been extirpated from most of western Europe. In central Europe, they survive only in the Carpathian Mountains and a small area of the south Dinaric Mountains in Greece, Macedonia and Albania, although larger populations persisted in Fennoscandia, the Baltic states, and European Russia. Lynx have been released in several areas of Europe in an effort to reintroduce this elusive predator including in Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and France (IUCN 2007).
Afghanistan; Albania; Armenia (Armenia); Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bhutan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Estonia; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Italy; Kazakhstan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Nepal; Norway; Pakistan; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Tajikistan; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan
Regionally extinct:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The European lynx population (excluding Russia) has been estimated at 8,000. Populations in central and southern Europe are small and fragmented, although there are larger populations in Fennoscandia and the Baltic states (Breitenmoser et al. 2000). Lynx in Europe occur in ten distinct subpopulations (IUCN 2007). Detailed status and trend information can be found on (ELOIS, the European Lynx Online Information System).

The lynx's stronghold is a broad strip of southern Siberian woodland stretching through eastern Russia from the Ural mountains to the Pacific, and the Russian lynx population has been estimated at 30,000-35,000 (Matyushkin and Vaisfeld 2003). Although large portions of its range lie in China, status there is poorly known, and the government considers the population to be decreasing in a recent global survey of lynx status (Govt of US 2007). While lynx presence in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia is uncertain, in the country of Mongolia Matyushin and Vaisfeld (2003) estimate the lynx population at 10,000.

In a survey of 37 lynx range state governments, 30% considered their national populations to be decreasing, 35% stable, 14% stable to slightly increasing, 16% increasing, and 8% unknown (Govt of US 2007). The population in Afghanistan is considered to have decreased (Habibi 2004).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Throughout Europe and Siberia, lynx are associated primarily with forested areas which have good ungulate populations (Nowell and Jackson 1996). In Central Asia lynx occur in more open, thinly wooded areas. The species probably occurs throughout the northern slopes of the Himalayas, and has been reported both from thick scrub woodland and barren, rocky areas above the treeline. On the better-forested southern Himalayan slopes, there are only a few records from Nepal (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Karan Bahadur Shah pers. comm. 2008). Lynx occur sporadically throughout the Tibetan plateau, and are found throughout the rocky hills and mountains of the Central Asian desert regions (Nowell and Jackson 1996).

The Eurasian lynx is the largest lynx, and the only one to primarily take ungulate prey, although they rely on smaller prey where ungulates are less abundant (Nowell and Jackson 1996). In European Russia and western Siberia, where roe deer are absent, mountain hares and tetraonids form the basic prey base. Hares and birds are important prey also in other Central Asian regions where habitats are dryer and less forested (Breitenmoser and Breitenmoser-Würsten 2008, Matyushkin and Vaisfeld 2003). Lynx kill ungulates ranging in size from the 15 kg musk deer to 220 kg adult male red deer, but show a preference for the smallest ungulate species in the community (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Home range size varies widely (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002), but averaged 248 km² for males (n = 5) and 133 km² for females (n = 5) in a radio telemetry study in Poland’s Bialowieza forest (Schmidt et al. 1997). Densities are typically 1-3 adults per 100 km², although higher densities of up to 5/100 km² have been reported from eastern Europe and parts of Russia (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): While China and Russia had annual commercial exports of thousands of skins in the 1970s and 1980s (Nowell and Jackson 1996), this trade has ended in recent years (UNEP-WCMC 2008). However, illegal skin trade remains the leading threat to the species, together with habitat loss and prey base depletion (Govt of US 2007a, IUCN 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on CITES Appendix II and protected under the Bern Convention (Appendix III). Hunting for commercial purposes (other than sport hunting) is permitted only by Russia, according to a recent survey of 37 range states (Govt of US 2007). While China and Russia had annual commercial exports of thousands of skins in the 1970s and 1980s (Nowell and Jackson 1996), this trade has ended in recent years (UNEP-WCMC 2008). However, illegal skin trade remains the leading threat to the species, together with habitat loss and prey base depletion (Govt of US 2007). Since 2009, the Lynx is a legally protected species in Afghanistan, banning all hunting and trading of this species within the country. Detailed recommendations for conservation of European subpopulations are given in IUCN (2007).

Bibliography [top]

Breitenmoser, U. and Breitenmoser-Würsten, Ch. 2008. Der Luchs: Ein Grossraubtier in der Kulturlandschaft. Salm Verlag, Wohlen/Bern.

Breitenmoser, U., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Okarma, H., Kaphegyi, T., Kaphegyi-Wallmann, U. and Müller, U. M. 2000. Action Plan for the conservation of the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) in Europe. Council of Europe, Strasbourg.

Government of U.S. 2007. Additional information on amendment proposal. COP 14 P02. CITES COP14 Inf. 30.

Habibi, K. 2003. Mammals of Afghanistan. Zoo Outreach Organisation/ USFWS, Coimbatore, India.

IUCN. 2007. European Mammal Assessment. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Matyushkin, Y. N. and Vaisfeld, M. A. 2003. The lynx – regional features of ecology, use and protection. Nauka, Moscow, Russia.

Nowell, K. and Jackson, P. 1996. Wild Cats. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Schmidt, K., Jedrzejewski, W. and Okarma, H. 1997. Spatial organization and social relations in the Eurasian lynx population in Bialowieza Primeval Forest, Poland. Acta Theriologica 42: 289-312.

Sunquist, M. and Sunquist, F. 2002. Wild Cats of the World. University of Chicago Press.

United Nations Environment Programme. 2008. CITES Trade Database. Available at:

Citation: Breitenmoser, U., Mallon, D.P., von Arx, M. & Breitenmoser-Wursten, C. 2008. Lynx lynx. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 23 May 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided