Lynx, ‘spirit of the forest’, photographed in the Ardennes

The suspicion had been there for some time, but now it has been confirmed: the lynx is back in Belgium. With an unmanned game camera the rare feline has been captured in the Semois Valley in the Ardennes.

“I’ll keep the exact location a secret,” says photographer Maarten Cuvelier. “In the interest of the lynx not to attract tourists, hunters and poachers.” The photo of the very timid predator was taken on August 27th. Today nature association Landschap vzw announced the discovery.

“Beautiful color photo

For almost two centuries the spotted animal with fluffy ears had disappeared from the Belgian forests. Since the 1990s, several sightings had been reported. Especially since February the Eurasian lynx was spotted more often in the region by people and even photographed. However, those photos were too vague for 100 percent clarity.

“But the new lynx photo of August 27th 2020 removes all doubts,” says Rรฉseau Loup from the hotline for large predators in Wallonia. “Not a blurry black-and-white photo like we’re used to from wildlife cameras, but a beautiful colour photo of a lynx on a game change in the forest”

“The spirit of the forest

Cuvelier couldn’t believe it at first when he saw the photo on his small screen of the camera. At first he thought it was a roe deer. “For a lynx is so untraceable it’s called the spirit of the forest.”

The predators live solitary in vast nature reserves. Their territory covers 100 to 1000 square kilometres and they grow to be about the size of a shepherd dog.

Wolf

Over the years, Europe’s largest feline has also established itself in Germany. Lynxes have also been seen and reported several times in Limburg, but without irrefutable evidence. Given their preference for a large, wooded habitat, there is little chance that the species will settle in our country in the short term.

So that seems to have already happened in Belgium. To Cuvelier’s delight. “I certainly hope to encounter the lynx in person. Just as I’ve experienced with the wolf.” Cuvelier made a video of a wolf in June, a few metres away. He had hidden under a bale of hay to make the footage.