The Eurasian lynx, Lynx lynx, also known as the Boreal lynx, is the largest cat in Europe and can weigh up to 38 kg. There is another species in Europe, in the Iberian Peninsula, called the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus).
The lynx has wide paws which prevent it from sinking into the snow. Its thick pale-coloured fur with dark spots acts as a coat to keep out the cold.
Although its stealth and acute sense of hearing enable the lynx to ambush its prey, its vision during the daytime is no sharper than that of humans. The French expression "to have the eye of a lynx" ("eagle-eyed" in English) should not be taken at face value.
An endangered species
In the 15th century, the Eurasian lynx was present throughout France. Then deforestation, the decline in population of its prey and hunting confined it to mountainous areas. It gradually disappeared from the Vosges, the Jura and the Massif Central. From the 1970s onwards, the lynx returned to the mountainous areas in Eastern France. Although it was reintroduced in the Vosges in 1983, it made a natural comeback in the Jura Mountains and the French Alps. Today the population is estimated at 200 individuals. A good start, but in spite of it being protected, the threats persist, such as poaching, the fragmentation of its habitat and traffic collisions.