Legendary Kazimir the lynx
Coauthor: Irina Rotenko
The male lynx, we once called Kazimir, lived mainly in the localities of Jalowka and Tavaryshchyna in the central north of Naliboki Forest. He gradually appeared to be an outstanding, legendary lynx for us. Saying 'us' we mean not only the authors Vadim Sidorovich and Irina Rotenko (Naust Eco Station), but also the team of Wild Naliboki (first of all, Sanne Van Den Berge, Jan Gouwy, Sanne Ruyts, Maximilian Hetzer and others). All the above mentioned friends and collaborators helped more or less in investigating lynxes in Naliboki Forest and, particularly, in ecology and behavior of Kazimir.
Kazimir must have died last summer (2019), when an epidemic happened in the local lynx population in Naliboki Forest, and many other lynxes died (approximately a half of them; mainly adult males and kittens were affected by the disease). Since September we had undertaken much efforts to find out if Kazimir the lynx was still alive or not. For that purpose we put many camera-traps in the main Kazimir’s spots, which were frequently visited and used by him. The cameras have not caught Kazimir anymore, and this article is a kind of a requiem to this legendary lynx. Kazimir lived quite a long life, last summer he was at least 10 years old.
Why is Kazimir the lynx so important for us that we call him a legendary one? It is not because Kazimir lived not far away from the Naust field station and this lynx was a suitable individual to investigate. Indeed, Kazimir was a relevant model lynx to study on the species behavior and ecology. There is no doubt in that: he lived in the neighbourhood; we were familiar with the area; his habitats had complicated structure and distinctive carrying capacity etc. Nevertheless, the main things that made Kazimir the lynx unique are actually other ones. Let us say Kazimir opened our eyes on the Eurasian lynx behavior and ecology. His behavioral traits looked strange initially, but later we found out that those are really typical characteristics of the Eurasian lynx. Kazimir’s behavior made us hit upon the ideas: (1) a specific spotted structure of an adult male home range with more or less continuously guarding mating spots in thickets and treefalls; (2) strikingly distinctive hunting-guarding days and largely walking-marking days in adult male lynxes; (3) territorial and mating calls from tall trees; (4) sociality of adult males with adult and subadult females not only during mating season, but year-round including regular hunting and grooming-resting together; (4) long lasting ambush hunting in particular ambuscades; (5) individual-specific diets of lynxes, when the prey supply with lynx-relevant prey (roe deer, hares and tetraonids) is scarce, that have either individual specificity or opportunistic origins; (6) mating with 1 to 4 females during mating season in his mating spots, where females in heat find him themselves; (7) possibility of an adult lynx to fight successfully with an adult wolf and even to kill it. On the way to learn the real behavior and ecology of the Eurasian lynx (not those ideas and beliefs of cabinet professors written in books and scientific articles about lynxes) Kazimir the lynx was like a talented teacher for us.
Now we have lost him, he has gone. We feel that we start a new stage of the process in learning lynxes, when you are like a pupil, who has lost his important teacher, and then tries to go further alone. Kazimir the lynx was really like a relative to us and we get used to living close, but we have lost him and all the time feel this loss.
Fighting of Kazimir with adult male wolf. Kazimir won the wolf in this encounter.
Marking of the mating spot area by Kazimir.
Kazimir jumped from the tree of a territorial calling and the reaction of red deer to the tree with Kazimir's smell. Kazimir's claw marks on the tree.
One of the main marking point on Kazimir's marking itinerary.
Kazimir's display at the marking point in his housing area with mating spots.