EU LIFE Luchs - reintroduction of lynxes in the Palatinate Forest
With the EU project “LIFE Luchs Pfälzerwald” a subpopulation of lynx will be established in the Palatinate Forest Biosphere Reserve. 20 lynx from Slovakian Carpathians or from Switzerland have been captured and relocated to the Palatinate Forest with the help of the origin countries’ partners and authorities. The first releases took place in 2016 after comprehensive preliminary work. The reintroduction is accompanied by numerous actions in terms of public relations, involvement of stakeholders and transboundary measures in the German-Franco UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Palatinate Forest and Northern Vosges. A lynx management plan has been implemented prior to release in Rhineland-Palatinate. The development of the reintroduction is being evaluated by monitoring including GPS-telemetry, systematic camera trap monitoring and a network of trained field-experts. The project will continue until the end of September 2021. All 20 lynx (12 females, 8 males) were resettled to the Palatinate Forest until March 2020. Wild-caught animals including lynx orphans (7) were released. First reproduction was documented in 2017 (1 litter with 2 cubs); in 2018 at least 3 litters with 5 cubs could be reported, in 2019 at least 2 litters with 4 cubs had been documented. 3 lynx were killed in (traffic) accidents. A nucleus of lynx subpopulation has been established. Major parts of the Palatinate Forest have been explored by lynx. Further conservation efforts of the initiated subpopulation will need to focus on a perpetuation of further growth on up to at least 45 independent lynx in the transboundary Biosphere Reserve, sufficient dispersal opportunities to adjacent subpopulations, maintaining a positive acceptance, establishment of a permanent management team and a common management approach in the Upper Rhine Valley covering the mountain ranges Palatinate Forest, Vosges Mountains (FR), Jura Mountains (FR, CH) and Black Forest (DE). A danger to humans does not come from the secretly living lynxes. Forest visitors of all ages can still move around the woods carefree.
The project is also funded by the European Financial Instrument LIFE, which co-finances projects for the protection of endangered habitats and species within the NATURA 2000 network.