A slinking bobcat in the snow is the picture one gets when watching Planet Earth. The visuals are beautiful and show that these animals are superb survivors in their various habitats. If you look at the lovely map below, that is literally half the globe. The servals are not closely but they occupy the same niche in Africa.
This genus(Lynx) among the cats(Felidae), has four extant species. One of them: the Iberian Lynx is very rare with just a 100 or so remaining in two spots in Southern Spain. The others are fairly widely spread and could be said to be globally not in a threatened state. There was another species, The Sardinian Lynx, which went extinct in the 19th century due destruction of habitat.
All these species are said to have evolved from a common ancestor in the Pliocene epoch called the Issoire Lynx. It was rather more closely related to other cats but had the same long legs, short tail, and 28 teeth of modern lynxes. Recent research places them as having evolved in Africa and migrated to Europe and Asia. The Bering land bridge created the path for the two North American species to migrate there.
The differences in species are not too many but they are marked enough for us to note them.
This animal is found in all of mainland Europe and Asia but with a population that is very sparsely distributed. There are estimated to be about 50,000 of these lynxes and most are concentrated in Russia and China. They are solitary animals that occupy rocky and temperate terrain. The size varies between 80 to 130 cms. They have tufted ears and long stubby legs with huge webbed paws( makes them really silent in the snow). The coloration is more red/brown in the summer and grey/white in the winters.
This species is found all over Canada, Alaska and some northern states of the USA. It hase been recently introduced in some older habitat in the USA from which it had gone locally extinct due to hunting and habitat destruction. The fur of this species is mottled grey and the populations depend very much on snowshoe hare populations, as that is the primary food in the tundras and boreal forests that they can find. These cats do eat fish and are comfortable in water too.
This species is usually brown with black spots and is solitary for most of the year except when it has to find a mate. The population is plentiful in the United States, Mexico and some southern parts of Canada. They are thus able to inhabit very diverse habitats, from boreal forests to deserts of Arizona. They live off a lot of small mammals but their primary prey is the cotton-tailed rabbit. Sometimes, an enterprising bobcat can bring down a deer too.
This is the world’s most endangered species of cat. Barely a hundred were alive in the wild in two tiny pockets in Southern Spain. The populations used to depend on wild rabbits but due to their decimation, by human introduced disease, the lynx population has declined very fast too. There are efforts to introduce rabbits in lynx territories but this could be too little too late for this tawny cat. There are reports that the wild populations have increased somewhat so one fervently hopes that the conservation efforts will bear fruit, or in this case, more lynxes.
Some more pretty pictures of lynxes for you to enjoy.
It will help the Lynx if you can donate to this project that works for the Iberian Lynx. If this cat species goes, it will be yet another loss like the Sardinian Lynx. Two cats in in one century, completely due to human involvements kinds of sticks in the neck.