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Participation of the Ostrava Zoo in reintroduction of European lynx Lynx lynx Linnaeus, 1758 in Europe Podil Zoologicke zahrady Ostrava na reintrodukci rysa ostrovida Lynx lynx Linnaeus, 1758 v Evrope

Participation of the Ostrava Zoo in reintroduction of European lynx Lynx lynx Linnaeus, 1758 in Europe Podil Zoologicke zahrady Ostrava na reintrodukci rysa ostrovida Lynx lynx Linnaeus, 1758 v Evrope

Gazella. 1 January; 31: 7-38

In 1968, an international team of experts, led by academician J. Kratochvil, made two reports on the historic and current occurrence of the European lynx Lynx lynx (Linnaeus, 1758) in Europe (KRATOCHVIL et al. 1968 a, b). Reports made for IUCN and WWF analysed the reasons for the extinction of the European lynx in many European countries and examined ways of its conservation in the countries where it was still found. At the beginning of 1960's, the Slovak population of the European lynx was estimated at 500 animals (HELL 1968). A number of the animals were captured in the six-ties for use in Slovak zoological gardens and some offspring were successfully reared (GRESSNER 1963, 1964). The first three lynx came to the Zoological Garden in Ostrava in December 1965; they were captured in the Slovak Beskydy (Beskids) Mountains. The first progenies were reared in 1967. KUNC (1967, 1969), STEHLIK (1971 b) and KUNC et STEHLIK (1982) encouraged regulation of the numbers of the European lynx by catching them into live traps. Thus, a total of 95 European lynx from the Slovak (Slovensky) Beskydy mountains, Slovensky Rudohorie, Slovensky Kras, Nizke and Zapadni Tatry (Low and Western Tatras), Velka Fatra and Vsetinske Vrchy came to Ostrava Zoo in the period from 1965 to 1992. Most of them came from permitted captures made in the above localities in Slovakia. In several instances there were young animals who came to the zoo after losing their mother (this was the case of lynx from the Nizke and Zapadni Tatry and Vsetinske Vrchy). Catching lynx in Slovakia was regulated - quotas for capture and the prices were determined by the Central Committee of the Slovak Hunters Union (Slovensky polovnicky zvaz) in Bratislava, who also inspected the activities. This co-operation was terminated in the Autumn 1984, when the Slovak Ministry of Culture and the Slovak Ministry of Agriculture and Food decided, and we were informed, that lynx in Slovakia would only be captured by the zoological gardens in Bratislava and Bojnice and, at a later stage, the Zoo in Kosice. For this reason, the Ostrava Zoo did not get its contract for the catching season of 1984/1985. This was the end of the participation of the Zoological Garden in Ostrava in the ongoing reintroduction of the European lynx in Vosges and in the Sumava Mountains (Bohemian Forest), and this proved to be a difficult matter to explain to our French partners. The relatively rich material in Ostrava Zoo was utilised for breeding, scientific work, education as well as promotion and for reintroduction programs (STEHLIK 1985). The research of the European lynx in Ostrava Zoo was based on suggestions made by SLADEK (1970) and was in harmony with the current requirements laid on zoological gardens. The acquired knowledge contributed to finding solutions to issues concerning the ecological function of beasts of pray in the wild and helped to determine an optimum closed season and an effective way of conserving the species. Based on this know-ledge gained from studying reproduction and post-natal development, STEHLIK (1979 a) called for total conservation of the European lynx in Slovakia, at least for a test period. From 1970 to 1992, Ostrava Zoo supplied 50 captured European lynx into several European reintroduction projects (Tab. 1). Its participation in the reintroduction of the European lynx was a pioneer step at the time, taking all the political measures into consideration that complicated the exports and imports of animals and made it practically impossible for people to travel abroad. We would receive a number of invitations to symposia (e.g. Murau, Spiegelau, Strasbourg in 1978) and frequent invitations to provide expert views in localities of reintroduction (e.g. Gran Paradiso), however, we had never received the per-mission to leave the country. We have to bear in mind that, in those days, there was only limited experience with the reintroduction of felines. NOVELL et JACKSON (1996) stated that there were attempts to reintroduce the wild cat (Fells silvestris) in Bavaria between the years 1984 and 1989, to reintroduce the Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis) in the state of New York from 1988 to 1990 and that of the Bobcat (Lynx rufus) in the Cumberland Island, Georgia, in 1988 and 1989. It was not until 1988 that the Re-introduction Specialist Group (RSG) was formed within IUCN/SSC. Today, it has over 300 members all over the world, who are involved in overall reintroduction projects for animals and plants. In 1998, this group of experts prepared Guidelines for Re - introductions for IUCN. The guidelines declare that re-introduction is always a long, comprehensive and costly process, the main target of which is to found a viable population. It is an attempt to bring a species or sub-species back to the location of their historical occurrence where they had been made or had become extinct. Preparatory work for such projects includes evaluation of historical information, local ecological conditions, social behaviour of the species, the size of the home ranges, food availability, predators and diseases. The potential migration range is taken into consideration, socio-economic conditions are evaluated and an enlightenment campaign waged. Post-reintroduction activities include monitoring of individual animals, studying their adaptation, mortality evaluation and observation of the behaviour of reintroduced animals, demo-graphic and ecological studies. An important role is played by publishing in mass-media and professional publications (IUCN 1998). Reintroduction of beasts of prey into their former localities is often difficult not only for biological but also for social and political reasons. Reintroduction of large beasts, especially, is a potential conservationist hazard, often inducing concern in the general public (CARBYN et FRITTS 1998). Typically, the problem is the minimum size of vial population and inbreeding (BALLOU 1998).

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