Lynx Niko’s independence

Posted - Mar 2, 2021

Lynx Niko, one of last year’s offspring of Goru and Teja, left his mother’s territory in December and began his journey to independence. Biologists at Biotechnical Faculty were surprised that just two weeks after they fitted him with a telemetry collar, the young male wandered far from his mother’s familiar territory.

Generally, juvenile lynx leave their mothers at 10-11 months of age, so this early independence was a surprise to the LIFE Lynx team. After reviewing Niko’s telemetry data, they discovered that Niko left the maternal territory after a suspected meeting with his father Goru, which could be the trigger for Niko’s early dispersion.

Map of Goru’s and Niko’s movements. Photo: Jaka Črtalič, LIFE Lynx

Dispersion is a very delicate time for a juvenile lynx because they are exploring a new, unfamiliar environment, they have no experience hunting on their own, and they are not yet fully developed physically. At the same time, they are exposed to many other environmental factors that affect their survival. During this time, young lynx may approach urban areas and cross roads, further reducing their chances of survival.

After closely monitoring Niko’s movements, we noticed a “return to kill” behavior pattern just five days after he began dispersing. The team decided to check the situation in the field and found its first prey near Hinje in Suha Krajina (Slovenia); a roe deer. After that, Niko continued towards Črmošnjice, where he probably found an injured or dead 100 kg red deer stag. He stayed there and fed on it for two weeks until the remains of the deer were found by wolves. After that, Niko killed another deer, but that too was found by wolves after five days of feeding. For now, it appears that Niko is successfully capturing his prey, which is one of the main factors in his survival success.

Niko at his prey Photo: Jaka Črtalič, LIFE Lynx

The wolves fed on Niko’s prey. Photo: Jaka Črtalič, LIFE Lynx

In February, Niko was moving in the forests of Kočevski Rog and Črmošnjice, crossing the busy Soteska -Črmošnjice road several times, so we ask all motorists to drive with extra caution in this area.

Niko’s steps to independence and scavengers on his prey were also filmed with camera traps and we present them to you in a video compilation.