The project Status and Conservation of the Alpine Lynx Population (SCALP) is an ongoing programme aimed to co-ordinate the lynx monitoring and the conservation activities in the Alps. The long-term goal of the SCALP is to help the now existing small, reintroduced populations to expand and to recover throughout the Alps in co-existence with people. The process is advanced and supervised by the SCALP Expert Group, which unites lynx experts from all Alpine countries.


Copyright: KORA

Sites of reintroductions effectuated in the 1970s (grey stars) 
and recent translocation sites (black stars).


The lynx (Lynx lynx) has been eradicated throughout the Alps during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Nowadays, the lynx and its habitat are protected by international treaties and by national laws in all Alpine countries. However, legal protection alone was not able to bring back the lynx to the Alps. Re-introduction programmes in the 1970s have resulted in two populations, one in the north-western Alps (Switzerland, stretching into France and Italy) and one in the eastern Alps (Slovenia, stretching into Austria and Italy). These programmes were not coordinated and no monitoring system was set up. Today, the two populations are still small and isolated.


Copyright: SCALP  

Distribution of signs of presence recorded from 1995 to 1999 in the Alps. 
Lynx occurrences in adjacent ranges are not shown.


The SCALP (Status and Conservation of the Alpine Lynx Population) was established in the early 1990s in the recognition that no Alpine country alone can host a viable lynx population and that international co-operation is essential for the conservation of this species. Therefore, scientists from all Alpine countries formed an expert group to survey the status of the lynx in the Alps and to propose and co-ordinate further actions. The long-term goal of the SCALP is to help the now existing small, reintroduced populations to expand and to recover throughout the Alps in co-existence with people.


Copyright: Paolo Molinari  


Main products and activities: The first country-based status reports reviewed the development of lynx from re-introductions until 1995 and was published in Hystrix (1998). This was the first time that an Alps-wide map of the lynx distribution was presented. From this map it became obvious that a monitoring strategy with common data interpretation throughout the Alps was needed. This was considered in the second country-based status reports from 1995-1999 that were published in Hystrix (2001). The status reports of the next pentad (2000-2004) are in preparation. To evaluate the conservation success 25 years after the first re-introduction, the first SCALP conference was held in 1995 in Engelberg, Swiss Alps (The reintroduction of the lynx into the Alps, Environmental encounters, No. 38, 1998, Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg). Besides dealing with monitoring, the SCALP has proposed a Pan-Alpine Conservation Strategy for the Lynx (PACS) to the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention. The PACS aims to secure the survival of the lynx in the Alps through the merging of the extant populations by means of a network of local populations and has been adopted in 2001. In order to advance the conservation strategy, present progress and identify problems, and to improve international co-operation a second SCALP conference was held in Amden, Swiss Alps in 2003.

 

Copyright: Anja Molinari-Jobin

Simmental (Switzerland)


Today, the Alps are a better living space for the lynx than in the 19th century, and the lynx has proved that it can perfectly live in this human dominated landscape. However, the lynx needs further support to regain the once lost territory, and a broad acceptance to survive here. Legal protection alone is not enough to secure its survival. Both, the problems of the lynx and the problems of local people with the lynx need to be solved through active interventions. For example, the Swiss management plan for lynx gave approval for the translocation of lynx from the area of high abundance in the north-western Alps to eastern Switzerland. The basic idea is to trade lynx abundance for expansion of the population. This compromise helps to overcome the low capacity of lynx to expand and at the same time to improve the acceptance of the predator. If once the lynx population is considered viable, it is planned to allow limited harvest of local populations in Switzerland. Conservation and management plans are also needed in other countries. The SCALP expert group emphasises the importance of the recovery of the Alpine lynx population as an integral part of our natural heritage and ecosystem. But we also recognise that, in order to secure the long-term coexistence of the lynx, its prey and man, a sound concept for the management of the lynx is essential.

Acknowledgements. The SCALP is supported by WWF Switzerland and the MAVA Foundation.

 

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Text: Anja Molinari-Jobin