April 26, 2019 / 3:22 PM / 3 months ago

Slovenia takes in a lynx from Romania to save wildcat population

A lynx, originally captured in Romania, sits in an enclosure, where it will stay for about three weeks before being released, at Loski Potok, Slovenia April 26, 2019. Slovenia Forest Service/Handout via REUTERS

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia imported a lynx from Romania on Friday in an attempt to restore its dwindling population of the wildcat, the national Forest Service said.

The male lynx called Goru is the first out of 10 lynxes that will be moved from Romania and Slovakia by 2024, Maja Sever, a spokeswoman of the Service, told Reuters.

Goru will spend about three weeks in a fenced-off space to adapt to the new environment and then be set free.

Lynxes became extinct in Slovenia about 100 years ago but were successfully repopulated in 1974 when six were moved in from Slovakia. Their numbers were on the rise until 2000 when they began to fall due to genetic flaws caused by inbreeding.

There are now only 10 to 20 left in Slovenia’s forests, down from between 50 and 70 about 20 years ago.

A 7-million-euro project ($7.80 million), mostly financed by European Union funds, also includes the transfer of four lynxes to neighboring Croatia where the lynx population is also low at about 40.

About 60 percent of Slovenia is covered by forests that are also home to relatively stable populations of bears and wolves.

Reporting By Marja Novak, Editing by William Maclean

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