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Distribution area of the Eurasian lynx in Switzerland according to their SCALP category in 2020. Red = category 1, “hard facts”; blue = category 2, confirmed reports; green = category 3, non-verifiable reports. The database for the canton of Valais is incomplete. © KORA GIS© KORA GIS

In Switzerland, lynx are divided into two populations – Jura and Alps. The Jura population ranges over the entire Jura arc from Lake Geneva to Liestal and Buchs AG, respectively. In the Alps, lynx can mainly be found on the northern side from Lake Geneva to Lake Constance. However, especially the area of eastern Central Switzerland – between Lake Lucerne and Lake Walen – is not yet fully colonised. Lynx presence in north-eastern Switzerland was established after 2001 through translocations from the Jura mountains and the north-western Alps. Aside from the northern side of the Alps, records mainly originate from the northern lower Valais and from the Surselva. Records from the rest of the Grisons, the southern Valais and from the Ticino are rare. From the Central Plateau, records are rare too, but it also offers only heavily fragmented habitat with numerous barriers for lynx. The Central Plateau is a strong border between the Jura and the Alpine population.

Lynx records are presented in the Monitoring Center.

Verbreitungsgebiet des Eurasischen Luchses in der Schweiz 2001 – 2018

Alps and neighbouring populations

Distribution of lynx records in the Alps, the Upper Rhine meta-population und in the Dinarics in 2018 based on a 10×10 km grid (Red = SCALP category 1, “hard facts”; pink = SCALP category 2, confirmed reports; grey = SCALP category 3, non-verifiable reports. Signs of reproduction: yellow, grid cell with images of a juvenile lynx or a dead juvenile lynx; light green = grid cells where large and small lynx tracks were found together; dark green = grid cells with sightings of females with juveniles). © SCALP

Originally, the expert group SCALP was founded to assess the lynx over the entire Alps. Lately, the focus was enlarged to neighbouring populations: the Upper Rhine meta-population (Jura, Vosges, Palatinian forest, black forest and bordering areas), and the Dinarics. SCALP published an annual monitoring report. For the period 2017 (covering the biological lynx year 01.05.2017–30.04.2018), the lynx distribution was concentrated in the north-western Swiss Alps, and the Jura mountains in Switzerland and France. Numerous occurrences of reproduction have been reported from these areas. Several lynx occurrences, but without reproduction, have also been reported from the northern French Alps, and from the Limestone Alps in Austria. After beginning the reintroduction project in 2016, the first reproduction was documented for the Palatinian forest. The lynx distribution in the Dinarics is fragmented, but there are some reports of reproduction.


Monitoring and management are traditionally organised by the individual countries. However, all viable lynx populations expand over international boundaries. The network Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, an IUCN/SSC specialist group, periodically collects the most recent data on the status, management and distribution of the carnivores in Europe.

Earlier surveys:

Verbreitung des Eurasischen Luchses in Europa

Distribution of the Eurasian lynx in Europe based on a 10×10 km grid and data from 2012–2016. Dark green = permanent presence (presence confirmed in at least 3 of the 5 years, or reproduction confirmed within the last 3 years), light green = sporadic presence (presence confirmed in less than 3 of the 5 years), blue = possible presence (weak evidence, possibly only rare vagrants). No data was available from country areas coloured white. © LCIE


Outside of Europe, the lynx distribution ranges to the Pacific, and from the Himalayas to the northern timberline. The lynx is a forest dweller (IUCN Red List). Only in Central Asia on the western edge of the Gobi desert and the Himalayas does it occur outside the zone of dense forests.

Weltweite Verbreitung des Eurasischen Luchses

Spatial distribution of the Eurasian lynx extends over large parts of Europe and Asia. © IUCN Red List 2015


The Lynx genus includes four species, two in North America (Bobcat L. rufus in the U.S. and Mexico, Canada lynx L. canadensis in Canada and Alaska) and two in Eurasia (Eurasian lynx L. lynx and Iberian lynx L. pardinus in Spain). Phylogenetically the lynx are big cats (Pantherinae); however, they are typical hunters of mid-sized mammals (hares). Since the last ice age, the Eurasian lynx has become a specialist hunter of small even-toed ungulates and is now about twice as heavy (17–26 kg) as its closest relative, the Canada lynx (10–15 kg).

Distribution of the European lynx subspecies. © Kitchener et al. 2017

Many subspecies of the Eurasian lynx are described. As of the current state of research, six subspecies of the lynx are proposed:

  • Northern lynx L. l. lynx in Scandinavia, Finland, Baltic States, Belarus, European part of Russia east to the Yenissei river,
  • Carpathian lynx L. l. carpathicus in East and Central Europe, as well as in the reintroduced populations in Western Europe,
  • Balkan lynx L. l. balcanicus in the Balkans,
  • Caucasus lynx L. l. dinniki in the Caucasus, Asia Minor, Iran and Iraq,
  • Turkestan lynx L. l. isabellinus in Central Asia including the Himalayas and Tibet, and
  • Siberian lynx L. l. wrangeli in Russia east of the Yenissei River to China.

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