After reintroduction they re-colonized large part of Dinaric Mountains and part of Eastern Alps, but population again started declining in 1990s. Today lynx still occur in some parts of Dinaric Mountains of Slovenia and Croatia (Snežnik, Javorniki, Kočevsko, Menišija, Rakitna, Hrušica, Nanos, Trnovski gozd, Gorski kotar, Velebit, Lika), but are almost extinct in the Slovenian Alps. Dinaric-SE Alpine population extends also to Italy, Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
In Slovenia lynx core area overlaps with wolf and bear area, however is smaller in size. The population number is estimated to only about 15 individuals. In order to carry out a population reinforcement effort, 14 lynxes will be translocated from Slovakia and Romania to Slovenia and Croatia under the auspices of the LIFE Lynx project.
Monitoring rare and elusive species living in dense forests can be difficult. There are different ways to monitor lynx.. As direct count of lynx is impossible, noninvasive genetic sampling (lynx scat, hair, saliva and urine) or camera traps are used to estimate lynx population size. To study movement pattern of lynx, telemetry can be used. Lynx are caught, tranquilized and equipped with a GPS collar. Collar is programmed to send information of lynx movement at regular intervals through GSM signal.
Reintroduction efforts in Slovenia
Lynx has already been reintroduced to Slovenia once. Three males and three females were released in the forests of south Slovenia in 1973. Females all had cubs in the first year and soon the population grew and spread to Alps and to Bosnia and Herzegovina through Croatia. For two decades, population seemed to be growing and lynx were even being culled. In last 20 years however population has been declining. Genetics revealed that the main reason for drastic decline in numbers has been inbreeding. Without enough unrelated individuals migrating from other populations, closely related individuals were breeding. Other reasons for population decline are poaching and fragmentation.
There is still hope for lynx as in 2017 LIFE Lynx project has been approved and will last until 2024. One of the main goals of the project is to connect Dinaric lynx population with Alpine population. For this reason 14 lynx will be released in project areas in Slovenia and Croatia, 10 in Slovenia and 4 in Croatia. Lynx will be captured in Romania and Slovakia and brought to holding enclosures in Slovenia and Croatia after quarantine period and health checks. To read more about the project, visit this site LIFE Lynx.